The decision was made this week after three months of community engagement, and the publication of the Voice of the Community Reports which captured the views of the Naenae community, pool users from around the region, and residents of wider Lower Hutt. The pool project will require an amendment to the long-term plan, and will be consulted on as part of next year’s annual plan process.
Naenae Pool was closed in April due to seismic issues, and Council had made it a priority to return the pool to the community. At a Council meeting on December 10, Councillors voted to progress the option of committing $52M to a new stand-alone pool, and the development of a spatial plan to guide the development of further facilities and services elsewhere in the town centre.
Mayor Campbell Barry says the decision reflects what the community has said it wants and needs.
“We want all of our communities to thrive and the people of Naenae have told us that this is the best way we can support them, and future generations of Naenae residents.
“This Council committed to return the pool, and we’ve voted to do that as quickly as possible. People have told us they want everything they had back, and improvements to the changing rooms, the entrance way and the indoor/outdoor flow.
“As well as that, we’ve agreed that a spatial plan needs to be developed to consider the future of the town centre and how we can get the best long-term outcomes for the community. That gives us the chance to consider the future of existing buildings in Hillary Court, and to work with others who have an interest in the community and may want to share spaces.”
Council also agreed to the establishment of a community-led, officer facilitated Naenae group to be involved in the spatial plan and facility design projects.
“We heard from the community that it’s vital they continue to be involved in these conversations and decisions, and this will enable that to happen. It also means we can build on the strengths they already have, like strong local leadership.”
Eastern Ward Councillor Andy Mitchell says he’s pleased with the outcome.
“I came to Council in July as a member of the Naenae community who wanted to be heard. Today’s decision shows this Council is listening and wants to work in partnership with communities to build neighbourhoods we can all be proud of. “
Cr Mitchell says he’s pleased that both the pool and spatial plan projects will consider how heritage could be retained and reflected, including pre European heritage.
Council partnered with Wellington-based design researchers Empathy to undertake the engagement, to ensure the approach was both best practice and objective, and that it built Council’s internal community engagement capability.
Cr Mitchell says while this phase of engagement has finished, this projects marks the start of an ongoing conversation between Council and the Naenae community.