Sports facility gets council's approval

It has taken seven years, countless meetings and hours of discussion, but yesterday the long-awaited and debated Wanaka Community Sports Facility got the green light.

At the full Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting in Queenstown, councillors voted unanimously on the recommendation, agreeing to a closed tender for stage one of the facility, and approving a budget movement and progression of pool design through until June 30.

Lengthy discussions proceeded the decision and Wanaka councillor Calum MacLeod expressed concern about the robustness of peer reviewing undertaken.

He said while reference had been made throughout the report of Sport New Zealand peer-reviewing it, he believed Sport New Zealand ''hasn't been formally asked to undertake a comprehensive review of the Wanaka Sports Facility to date''.

''This is not a criticism of staff, but it's rather a criticism of the way things have been presented.

''Whatever way you view that, that's quite concerning.''

Cr MacLeod said a September report, which had been peer-reviewed by Sport New Zealand, had found ''significant flaws'' regarding the dry facility, resulting in the plans being altered.

''We are now moving into the position of developing a wet area and I would like to see a review by a body - and it doesn't have to be Sport New Zealand ... that we can have faith in as a council; that we can say `that has been reviewed, that has been seen to [have] gone through a robust process whereby we get the best bang for our buck'.''

He said Cr Lyal Cocks had been ''trying to do this project for years'' and while he did not want to ''stop, slow down or hold up'' the process, ''I just don't want to end up in a situation where September plans, which had big flaws, got accepted''.

Cr Cocks said it had been a ''long, long process'', and council staff had done immense amounts of work, in consultation with others, including Sport New Zealand.

''We can't carry on and get input for months to come and we may get one [small] alteration.''

Project manager Ant Beale said there would be ''absolutely no problem'' in getting the report peer-reviewed in respect of the wet area and its connectivity with the dry area.

However, the pool was still only at concept design stage.

Planning and development general manager Marc Bretherton said Sport New Zealand's Richard Lindsay had been involved in the development of the dry facility to date.

He had described it as ''fit for purpose'', the process had been robust and ''it had integrity''.

Mr Bretherton was confident the process could be described as a peer review.

As part of the recommendation councillors approved a $315,000 increase in stage one of the facility budget, to allow the inclusion of some elements, including floodlights, and an increase of $185,000 for material increases.

Resulting from that, the detailed design cost increased to $13.9 million.

Councillors also voted to approve additional unbudgeted expenditure of up to $200,000 to progress pool design to the preliminary design stage by June 30 and authorise the process proceed to closed tender, aiming to confirm a main contractor.

That contractor will be appointed by council chief executive Adam Feeley, using delegated authority, provided capital costs do not exceed $13.9 million.

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