Auckland QC to lead panel

A prominent Auckland lawyer has been appointed the independent chairman of an evaluation panel to assess proposals for a convention centre in Queenstown.

Queenstown Lakes District Council Mayor Vanessa van Uden said Crown solicitor Simon Moore QC had been appointed to the role, which would give the public confidence the assessment process was ''fair, objective and applies the necessary expertise required to ensure the best possible decision is arrived at''.

The Convention Centre Working Group had heard a ''consistent message'' that a well-developed convention centre project could deliver significant economic benefits to the district.

It led the council to put out a request for proposals in September, which closed on Friday.

Several proposals were received.

Ms.van Uden said the response reinforced the position of the working group and was a tribute to the vision and hard work of it and the council.

The next step was to work through the detail of whether a business case existed, and work with a ''consortium of interests'' to take the project to the next phase.

The experience of new council chief executive Adam Feeley would also help to build on work done to date, she said.

''Adam previously led the redevelopment of Eden Park. His input will be a real asset, together with relevant industry experts both on the panel and available to provide advice to the panel."

The evaluation process would be done as soon as possible and the public informed of the outcome and the next steps in the new year.

''In the meantime, both council and the working party will be making no further comment, to maintain the integrity of the evaluation, until the review process and recommendations have been received from the panel,'' Ms.van Uden said.