Mount hot pools upgrade rejected

The proposed multimillion dollar redevelopment of the Mount Maunganui hot salt water pools has been refused planning permission by commissioner Greg Hill.

In a decision released to submitters on Tuesday, Greg refused consent for the $7.5 million redevelopment on grounds similar to those raised by project objectors, such as Tauranga City Councillor Catherine Stewart.

Councillor Catherine Stewart.

Refusing planning consent stops the development, unless the refusal can be successfully appealed in the Environment Court.

Greg found the development would have more than minor adverse effects and some significant adverse effects on the landscape, the area’s visual amenity, the lack of open space, transportation and car parking that could not be avoided, remedied or mitigated.

The development also failed to provide protection of Mauao.

“It’s a great moment for the community,” says Catherine, “because they didn’t want this project.”

“They just wanted the pools maintained – they never wanted a wellness centre for massaging high end spenders.

“They have spent all that money over the years to try and do something that’s not complying. The waste of money has been going on for years.”

It has cost millions rather than thousands because it has been going on so long, says Catherine.

Tauranga City Aquatics Ltd employs three people full time on the $9.9 million project, says Catherine. Plus there is the cost to the city of all the consultant reports, the designs, the maps and the expense of holding the hearing itself.

In 2008, when Catherine’s notice of motion seeking to stop the project was defeated, the council had then been spending money on the project for three years.  

A heritage and cultural centre envisaged as part of the development failed earlier when external funding could not be obtained.

Tauranga City Aquatics Ltd, a council-owned company, wanted land use consent to take 24 camp sites from the Mount domain camp for the project to expand the hot pools area from about 3285 square metres to about 5445 square metres – by about 2160 square metres.

The 5.15 hectares of public land is a conservation zone within the Tauranga City Plan and is classified as a recreation reserve under the Reserves Act.

The Mount Hot Pools are currently making $500,000 a year, says Catherine – income that was in danger of being lost to the cash-strapped city council if the $7.5 million massage business failed.



Posted on 28-03-2011 10:05 | By

So u hav never been to the pools but u just know they are not to a standard high enuff for your self.I suggest there may be a suburb in Auckland that deserves u .My physic moment reveals you drive a suv and look terrible in a swimsuit......

Done to a dinner

Posted on 25-03-2011 08:01 | By Scambuster

G Gillickers Do not recall anyone ever grizzling about the existing HOT POOLS other than to complain about the run down state they have been permitted to drift into by TCAL with a lack of proper care and maintainance.You seem to be suggesting an overpriced exclusive misnamed Wellness Centre had some merit and that is not so .Fortunately over 70% of the Tauranga public who opposed the redevelopment know who the nutters are in this case.Check the mirror out next time before you launch off into the fray.

Foresight something to appreciate

Posted on 24-03-2011 16:29 | By

As a grateful pool user I say thanks to the citizens who made hotpools and the best campground in the world right here at the Mount. If people like Jill Parry, Catherine Stewart and the many grizzlers you read about were here then, I doubt we’d have any of these facilities. Maybe the inmates really have taken over the asylum.

jill parry

Posted on 24-03-2011 16:06 | By jill parry

Well done Cr.Catherine Stewart and all submitters who turned out year after year in the holiday period to save this beautiful and unique mountain from bad taste greed and stupidity. NZCPS 2010 means the environmental cowboys will never win this on appeal. So TCC STOP this rotten waste of our rates. How unsurprising, reading Cr. Curach’s comments, that 20 minutes of audio records are missing. Its about time the names of those responsible for selectively deleting or failing to record information were publicised and the person fined.

Tauranga Fails Again

Posted on 24-03-2011 15:30 | By JenniPea

Once again, the moaners win and we don’t get the hot pools upgrade. I never bother to go them but certainly would have had they been upgraded to a 21st century standard and I am sure so would plenty of tourists. When is Tauranga not going to be held hostage by the aged in mind who don’t want anything to change from exactly what they want to pay for. This must be the community of the most selfish people in New Zealand


Posted on 23-03-2011 14:37 | By Mr bay

Have you been to the mount in the summer, I havn’t seen any "high end tourists" there It’s mostly families staying at the camp ground or young people out for a bit of fun, neither group looking for a wellness centre(what ever that be.), and any cruise ship visitors simple jump onto a bus and bugger off to Rotorua. Although I agree that Otumoetai pool also needs tiding up thats why I say get out there use the pool or lose the pools. We rate payers can’t keep paying for them when they are losing money. Should be user pays.

Catherine Stewart gloats

Posted on 23-03-2011 13:38 | By JSmithington

Put aside the gloating of Cr Catherine Stewart, engage your brains and think about what this actually means. The council runs pools at the Mount, Bayfair, Greerton and Otumoetai. Overall, they lose money and are subsidised by the ratepayer. It’s not just the Mount hotpools that need doing up, it’s Otumoetai as well. So here was a proposal that would attract tourists year round, a bit like Hamner Springs does. The local normal hot pool soaker entry fee was to be maintained. The figures were available to the public at an info center, and I think based on 30% occupancy to break even. The profits would then go into reducing the ratepayer subsidy. Ok, forget that now and whether the figures would work or not, because it’s over. The reality is that Mount pools need more than a lick of paint (and even that would cost), so who’s going to pay for it? Two choices, the swimmer or the ratepayer, as it certainly can’t come from the high end tourist. I predict that either the ratepayer subsidy to pools in Tauranga will increase drastically or the entry price to the pools will increase drastically, just to maintain a slightly improved pool system. I predict that the Otumoetai Pool will have to close. But think of the extra greenspace. I’m sure that would please the commissioner and Cr Catherine Stewart. It’s a jolly shame that a proposal that would have had real benefit for the community has been ditched. In Tauranga, Luddites rule.

Rob Paterson's comments

Posted on 23-03-2011 13:17 | By al pillocksworth

Looks like the commissioner may have got the wrong impression from Rob Paterson’s submission if it was like his comments on this story.. Rob states that the loss of 24 campsites is “around $200,000 p.a.” But there’s only 3 weeks when the camp is full and other sites are unavailable. Do the maths and it equates to about $25,000, not Rob’s figure. But there’s more, just who is “local identity Fred Greenhill” Rob writes about. I’ve never heard of him – does he actually exist? Rob should maintain his credibility by replying to these queries. Certainly hope his story isn’t the same “Glitzy claptrap” he accuses TCAL of?

time to move on

Posted on 23-03-2011 12:58 | By Mr bay

Now that the decision has been made lets stop the he said she said comments and move on. How about TCC giving the complex a tidy up and lets all go there for a nice long soak to calm everbody down. Lets support our local pools and make them successful, instead of just moaning about them being a drain on the rate payer. At least we have them not like Te Puke whos town pool has frogs living in it.

Ordinariness rules

Posted on 23-03-2011 12:39 | By al pillocksworth

Lucky to have a hotpool there at all in the first place, given the commissioner’s claptrap about failing to protect Mauo. Probably the next step will be to get rid of the pools (such an ugly blot when compared to grass) and the campground and give the whole thing to the environmentally minded control of Maori. What would Cr Catherine Stewart’s position have been on building the first hotpools there?


Posted on 23-03-2011 11:43 | By ROB PATERSON

At the RMA Hearing in February, the applicant TCAL aka TCC produced the usual glitzy claptrap with no valid robust business case, mostly supposition. The bottom line was that ratepayers needed to front with $7.5 million to put this ‘nice to have’ pipedream in place plus $½ million in interest a year. The project was to be on D.O.C. Conservation Land and is a Reserve. The Mount (Mauao) is an outstanding natural landscape. Clearly what came out of the evidence is the Wellness Centre is effectively divided off from the Mount Hot Salt Pools, in other words, a separate new self-contained commercial building which would be leased out to private enterprise to run. We all know what happened to Leisure Co. with the Baywave operations. The loss of 24 campsites will cost TCC around $200,000 p.a. for what is a passive investment and currently costs very little to administer so that is an immediate loss. In the case of the Mount Hot Pools, TCAL conceded these had not been adequately maintained for the last 10 years and the facility was in a run down state. Very telling submissions in opposition were made by TCC Councillor Catherine Stewart, prominent architect Gerry Hodgson, local identity Fred Greenhill and Messrs. Makgill / Hakiro (TCC Planners) along with many others, including me. Environmental traffic and parking issues were flagged as barriers. Mount Progressive Association did not support the project. The Tauranga public should be outraged that this project was even contemplated let alone have got this far, even more so had they heard the submissions presented in opposition at the Hearing. The bottom line was to be the creation of a new ‘Wellness’ Centre, not a redevelopment of the Mount Hot Pools at all. Commissioner Greg Hill reached the correct decision by refusing the application in its entirety.

Hot Pools

Posted on 23-03-2011 11:35 | By Molly

Wow!.. With the money that now wont be spent on the extensions / renovations ... do you think the council might be able to pay the contractors who were never paid for the critical maintenance works back in May 09??


Posted on 23-03-2011 10:08 | By The Master

When do the BOFFINS accept that this is not a "HOT POOL REDEVLOPMENT" but a massage palour and day spa, that has little to do with the pools. I don’t beleive it only cost $1m so far, if there are three full time TCC staff on the project at an average of $70,000 each x six years = $1.26m alone, that assumes they are only on the TCC average salary as per Bill F comments the other week. Then add admin, paper piles created, consultants, hearing, public due process on a massive scale and the SPIN-DOCTORING all along the way. Reports are that some 80% of the public objected to this scheme / scam but that Councillors were told that the "public supported it", there were 22 objectors against it and most showed up and presented, there were 2 supporters who failed to appear.


Posted on 23-03-2011 09:06 | By RawPrawn

Thank God It Failed. Well done Councillor Greg and all those who opposed this madness

Greg for Mayor

Posted on 23-03-2011 08:54 | By cinik

A sensible decision is made but what a mission to get there. I may have to change my nom de plume!


Posted on 23-03-2011 08:16 | By reeceracer

Thank ***** somebody finally saw some commonsense! This has been a total waste of time & money right from the start. Catherine’s comments in this article are spot on. Sad that it takes this long to get through some thick heads what the ratepayers DON’T want. Great News.


Posted on 23-03-2011 07:35 | By Scambuster

From an environmental and financial aspect this is the correct and only decision that could be made.The majority of residents & ratepayers didn’t want the wellness centre redevelopment for MOUNT HOTPOOLS at a cost of $8million.The travesty of it all is that TCC saw fit to proceed willy nilly with overall consultancy/investigation costs probably exceeding $1million since the scheme was first mooted.A complete and utter waste of TCC ratepayers funds as usual.Someone needs to be held accountable ~start at the top for openers

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