Cambridge residents have reacted angrily to news the former Bunnings building and site in Queen Street will become an up-market Ingham car yard.
Cambridge Community Board chair Sue Milner questioned whether Waipā District Council was too “Te Awamutu-centric” – a reference to the council’s decision to buy the Bunnings site in Te Awamutu for $2.05 million last year for a museum.
Others were disappointed Waipā District Council missed securing the site for a library while some suggested the site would have been perfect for an indoor sports’ centre with a youth focus.
Greg Renner posted the site could have been a community site with a better multi-purpose library, an indoor sports facility, a proper indoor kids’ playground for hot summers and long wet winters and a building with a covered car park to hold markets etc hours or even the farmers market on rainy days.
“I’m certain there are many many more options,” he said.
But he also acknowledged the community would benefit because Ingham would invest in tradies, provide jobs and once open would support and sponsor local schools, charities and events.
Helen Baggaley posted she was “devastated” at the news. “This was the perfect spot for the library, opposite Te Koo Utu, opposite the Town Hall, I Site, a civic precinct we could all use.”
Zack Dredge wrote on social media it could have been a library “but wasn’t”.
“Don’t be angry that a business decided to set up shop and introduce $$ into the local economy, but perhaps be angry that the local government/council didn’t bother to act sooner?”
Milner said she was annoyed because she and other councillors had actively lobbied the council soon after Bunnings closed in 2020 saying it was the perfect site for a library.
“I just got the impression from them (then) that it was a nice to have but you don’t need one yet.
“Whenever we have a bureaucracy based in one spot, e.g., in Te Awamutu, these things happen. They are very Te Awamutu centric and it’s a shame.”
Milner said she liked the idea of a combined library/museum.
“I’ve seen it in Alexandra, and it works really well.
“What we tend to forget is places like library are community centres. There are things that happen in there that are not just about books.”
Milner said she would be lobbying the council and councillors to find an alternative site for the library.
“I think they should start thinking about a suburban library in Leamington,” she said.