Hutt City Council has today released the Voice of the Community Report on Naenae Pool and town centre.
Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry has welcomed the Report and says through it, the community have given Council a clear steer on the things that are important to them.
“We have a big decision to make on the future of Naenae Pool and we want to make sure we can take into account what the community wants and needs.”
The pool complex was closed in April because of earthquake concerns. In August community engagement got underway to ensure the Naenae community, residents of wider Lower Hutt and pool users from around the region could have their say on how the pool is replaced.
Mayor Barry says the closure of the pool has had a devastating impact on Naenae and people right across the city, and returning it is a top priority.
“The pool was a highly-valued and well-used community facility and its closure impacted a lot of people, especially local residents and businesses,” he said.
“It was also used by many groups for aquatic sports like swimming and water-polo. In fact two thirds of pool users came from the wider region and all of that activity brought foot traffic into the town centre for retailers. So we need to make sure that we’re thinking of all of these people when we make decisions on how we replace the pool.”
Mayor Barry says the fact that more than 2800 people took part in the recent Naenae Pool Survey shows how much the pool was valued.
As well as carrying out the region-wide survey, Council partnered with Wellington-based design researchers Empathy to capture the voice of the Naenae community on the pool and also their vision for the wider town centre. This included interviews with more than 150 people, community open days and workshops, an online forum for sharing ideas and a display and suggestion box at Naenae Library. Mayor Barry says some strong themes have come through in the Report.
“We’ve heard a very clear message that people want the pool back, and quickly. They want everything they had returned, with some improvements to things like accessibility, the entrance way and the changing rooms. And they’d like easy access to better outdoor spaces like play and picnic areas.
“We’ve also heard clearly that the community wants us to think about the wider town centre, and how our investment in the pool can help bring that back to life. So we need to find a solution that strikes the right balance of all of these things.”
The Voice of the Community is now being used to test options for replacing Naenae Pool which will go to Council in December. These are currently available for community feedback.
These are, from the original options which went to Council in July:
(a) A new combined pool and community facility on the existing site (library remains as is)
(d) A new stand-alone pool on the existing site and separate community facility (including library) elsewhere in the town centre (as determined by a spatial plan)
And a new option:
(f) A new stand-alone pool on the existing site; other community needs met through multiple spaces in the town centre (as determined by a spatial plan)
These approaches are explained in more detail in the engagement document, including how they reflect the voice of the community. The Voice of the Community Report and the engagement document are available at Naenae Library and other HCC facilities, and online on our have your say website and on this website.
The engagement document includes high-level information on the cost of each option. In December Council will decide which option (or options) to include in next year’s consultation on an amendment to the Long Term Plan, which will be required to include this project.
On Tuesday 12 November the engagement team will be presenting the report to the community at the Team Naenae Trust meeting a Naenae Library at 7pm. There’ll also be a Community Open Day and drop-in sessions in November where people can review the proposed options and discuss them with the project team.
Mayor Barry says he encourages everyone to have their say on this important matter.
“When Council makes this important decision, we want to be confident we are reflecting the voice of our community.”