The next step on the way to making the Plaza a more usable space was taken today, when Hastings councillors considered new roof options for the facility.

In extensive public consultation last year residents asked that a permanent roof be built onto the space, replacing the canvas retractable version in place since 2007. The chosen option should make the space flexible, weatherproof and provide good acoustics.

As part of the project the differing floor levels would be altered, to allow for a larger range of events to be held. The reconfiguration would make it easier to hold stage shows, trade shows, conferences, balls and banquets.

The Plaza, which abuts the Hawke’s Bay Opera House, would be closed from January for construction, expected to be completed by July.

Hastings District councillors viewed four conceptual options for the permanent roof and agreed to meet with the architects to help them decide on the best version. They agreed to a budget of $2.5 million with Council to continue to investigate external funding options that would contribute to this total.

Staff were recommending a dome timber roof, inset with a composite material which would allow natural light through. The state-of-the-art material would allow for the level of light to be altered, through to black-out.

The work on the Plaza was being treated as a separate project from that of earthquake strengthening of the Opera House theatre which is currently in the detailed investigation stage before physical works commence in August.