A Napier council committee has given the green light for major demolition and a library-first approach in the first stage of a new civic centre rebuild.
It came today at a meeting of the full-council Future Napier Committee, and the council will take into account public feedback before adopting its Library and Civic Area Plan next month.
The move puts some direction for a new library and City Council home following a hurried exit four years ago amid condemnation of the buildings because of failed earthquake risk assessment.
Council and library staff and services have since been temporarily housed at varying locations pending decisions on proposals for which the Council is projecting a $55 million spend on the site between Hastings and Dalton streets..
While there is much in the way of demolition administration and new building planning still to take place, it is expected the main block will come down in the next 12 months and that stage 1 construction will start in the 2024-2025 financial year.
It is proposed that a new library and open space will be positioned on the Hastings St frontage, and a new cultural and community hub is also proposed for the site.
No decisions have been made on whether the new public library building will be levelled in what is likely to be a reprofiling of the eventual civic administration facilities fronting Dalton St, facing Hawke's Bay Regional Council offices on the other side of the road.
Recent public consultation made it clear to the council that a new library is wanted, and it was the most common reason given in support of the plan.
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Consultation closed early last month, with 101 people submitting their thoughts on what is needed in the focal point of the city. About 80 per cent supported the plan as a whole.
Mayor Kirsten Wise said it is heartening to see strong support for regenerating the area and developing a new library, adding: "The community has backed us to get on with it. They want us to develop a new library, and we agree with them."
There was 86 per cent support for the library being included in stage one, and mid-40s per cent support for council customer services and a cultural/community hub.
The plan concentrates on what sort of spaces and buildings should be on the site and will inform future detailed design work.
The mayor says the council will take a "financially responsible approach" by developing the area in stages – the offices for council staff will come in a later phase.
"We have a rare opportunity to design a space that is a collective expression of us all and our aspirations as citizens of Napier," Wise said. "My hope is that the new library and civic area will stimulate new economic activity in this area of the CBD and encourage growth in new businesses."
The next steps for the project will be demolishing the old Civic building in 2022, and developing a business case for the detailed design phase.