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Published: 2011-04-29 00:00:00

The Waikato Regional Council will formally review the Home of Cycling proposal before making a decision about consulting with the public on whether to put up to $6 million toward the proposed world-class velodrome in Cambridge.

The Waikato Bay of Plenty Home of Cycling Trust presented to the council yesterday, highlighting the benefits the proposed $29.5 million national cycling centre of excellence would deliver to the region, including projected economic benefits of $11 million a year.

Trustee Rob Waddell and working group member Simon Perry confirmed the trust was seeking the entire $10 million local government share from the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional councils - $6 million from Waikato and $4 million from Bay of Plenty - but time pressures meant they could not seek council support through the usual annual or long term planning processes.

The velodrome proposal was first pitched after the draft annual plan went out for public consultation. Although the proposal was not included in the plan, the council had received 1023 submissions in support of the velodrome and nine against by the time submissions closed on Tuesday.

Chairman Peter Buckley said the council would not be forced into hasty decisions and would follow proper legal processes, with September being the earliest a decision could be made on funding.

After considerable debate, the council yesterday agreed to spend $30,000 on due diligence to satisfy itself about the accuracy of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Home of Cycling Trust’s economic impact assessment report, the proposed capital and operational budgets and other issues including facility ownership and depreciation. Other councils considering submissions on the velodrome would be asked to contribute to the cost of the review.

If the review is favourable, the regional council will then decide whether to take the proposal to the next stage. Because the proposal exceeds $1 million unbudgeted capital, it triggers the council’s significance policy and the requirement to formally consult with the community. This involves publishing an audited statement of proposal, consultation, hearings and deliberations before a decision can be made. The cost is estimated to be at least $45,000.

In a parallel step, the council will be asking the district and city councils to endorse the proposal at a meeting next week. Each territorial authority will be asked to formally request the regional council to rate its ratepayers for the velodrome funds.
Cr Buckley said the council had to consider the submissions when it deliberated on the draft annual plan in June.

“It is good sense to consider these submissions in light of independent advice about the merits of the proposal,” he said.

“We also need to know we have the support of territorial authorities to rate for regionally-significant infrastructure, such as the cycling centre.

“Once we have completed due diligence, and if we are satisfied that the proposal is sound, then we will go to the next step and decide whether to undertake the special consultative procedure,” said Cr Buckley.

Responding to councillors’ concerns about the lack of clarity about the amount of funding required, trustee Simon Perry acknowledged the amount of money being sought from Waikato Regional Council had changed frequently as the bid had advanced but the overall numbers had not changed.

The Government is putting $7 million into the $29.5 million cycling centre project, with $10 million sought from local government, and the balance from trusts and naming rights.

The Government has set a tight timeline to finalise negotiations with the Waikato Bay of Plenty bid by 6 May, although the trust believes it might be able to negotiate an extension. Since winning the preferred tender bid, the Waikato Bay of Plenty trust has been on a fast track to secure funding and finalise commercial tenancies, design and build agreements and other governance and operational details.

Sport and Recreations New Zealand (SPARC) has stated it has the option to negotiate with other shortlisted bids, Auckland or Palmerston North, if Waikato Bay of Plenty cannot complete these technical and financial conditions. The timeframe has been set so building is completed by March 2013 in preparation for the 2016 Olympic programme.