Council's 'hands tied' over Centennial Pool

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 15:49 17/01/2014
Centennial Pool
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
DAMAGED: Centennial Pool will not be repaired.

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The Christchurch City Council says it is powerless to save Centennial Pool from demolition and will sell it to the Crown.

''I am aware that many city residents will be disappointed, but our hands are tied,'' Mayor Lianne Dalziel said today.

Dalziel revealed the council had considered a report on the sale of the Centennial Pool site to the Crown at its final meeting last year.

The site is to be used as part of the Frame, one of the anchor projects included in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan released in July 2012.

The Plan is a statutory document under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 and allows land within the central business district to be designated for public works.

It overrides the City Plan rules and effectively means that no-one may do anything in relation to the affected land that would prevent or hinder the public work.

Dalziel said her council had looked at whether it could keep Centennial Pool but it was bound by the cost-share agreement signed last year by the previous council.

''The previous council signed the cost-share agreement with the Crown which is binding on both parties. We approached the Government about retaining Centennial Pool as a community asset as part of the children's playground, but the answer was no. We have done all that we can.''

Dalziel said the council had resolved to delegate to the acting chief executive the authority to enter into a sale and purchase agreement with the Christchurch Central Development Unit, subject to clarification of the council's insurance position with regard to the buildings on the land.

But Save Centennial Pool spokeswoman Simone Pearson said she did not believe the council could legally sell the pool and her group intended challenging its sale through the Office of the Auditor General.

It had received legal advice which suggested that if the council planned on disposing of the pool then it should have consulted with the public, either through the Three Year Plan process last year or through a special consultative process, as required under the Local Government Act.

''We believe it is an illegal sale,'' said Pearson. ''In our opinion due process has not been followed.''

Asked whether she believed it was still possible to save Centennial Pool, Pearson said: "[Heritage campaigner] Anna Crighton once told me 'if it's still standing, there's still a chance'."

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"It is still standing so, yes, there is still a chance."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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