30 Jul 2019

High Court orders Napier City Council to stop work on $41 million pool complex

1:27 pm on 30 July 2019

The High Court in Wellington has ordered Napier City Council to immediately stop work on a controversial new $41 million pool complex.

Artists rendering of the proposed pool in Napier.

Artists rendering of the proposed pool in Napier. Photo: Supplied

A contract to build the proposed Napier Aquatic Centre on the outskirts of the city was close to being awarded, but the tender process is now on hold until a judicial review hearing in September.

Napier City Council can still proceed with its application for a resource consent and also carry out any preloading ground works on the site which would be needed for any future development, the two parties have agreed.

The injunction and judicial review was being sought by a group of Napier residents unhappy with the council's consultation process that resulted in its decision to demolish Onekawa Aquatic Centre near the city's centre, and establish a new pool complex on Prebensen Drive.

"We are very pleased with this interim injunction and we are now working very diligently to bring the full court case to fruition in September," Friends of Onekawa Aquatic Centre Society chairman Graham Sutherland said.

The group had raised around $12,000 so far to help pay for the legal action, though Mr Sutherland said he hoped they would raise much more in time for the hearing on 30 September.

The injunction ensured the pool's construction would not hinder the judicial review process, their lawyer Martin Williams said.

"The council is prevented from entering into a contract with its preferred tenderer, so the horse won't have bolted past the point of no return by the time we get a judgement from the High Court."

Napier City Council's resource consent application would be heard by independent commissioners and would be publicly notified, Mr Williams said.

If it goes ahead it will be the largest construction project every funded by the council.

The proposal to build the new pool was approved when Acting Mayor Faye White had the casting vote after a 6-6 spilt decision among councillors in April.

Napier City Council declined to be interviewed, and released a statement:

"Work on the new aquatic facility will continue on as Council reached an agreement prior to the High Court hearing for interim relief that was scheduled for today, 30th July. In practice, this means that scheduled work can continue with the resource consent process, preloading earthworks and the evaluation of tenders received and acceptance of the preferred tenderer by Council.

"The tender process closed earlier in July. NCC has agreed that a contract with a successful tenderer will not be entered into until after a decision is released on the full hearing for the legal challenge, which will be held on Monday 30 September," a spokesperson said.

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