A Tauranga man says he has lodged notice with Northland Regional Council that he is calling for a judicial review concerning proposals for Russell Wharf.

Doug Owens said he notified the Northland Regional (NRC) and Far North Holdings (FNH) Ltd yesterday a legal team was preparing for the review.

The non-notifiable consent application by FNH for plans to increase the size of the building on the wharf was approved by the NRC earlier this year.

Read more: Mixed reaction to council's plan to sell Russell Wharf for $1

Advertisement

Owens' notice of intent went to NRC as the consent-issuing authority and FNH as the consent holder.

At edition time neither of those organisations were able to confirm if they had received notice of the proposed legal review.

Currently the wharf is owned by the district council, with FNH responsible for routine maintenance.

Owens has been outspoken against the proposal to transfer its ownership.

He has also criticised its inclusion in the draft long-term plan, and questioned the transparency of processes relating to the wharf.

''It is now clear that the staging of the proposed transfer was to coincide with the FNDC Long Term Plan process.''

Owens claimed a business case has never been made available to the public.

''Wharves such as Russell do not make money and ongoing maintenance remains the elephant in the room.''

Once it owns the wharf, FNH and its partner community group, the Russell Wharf and Waterfront Trust (RWWT), plan to increase commercial berths as well as enlarge the building to house a cafe and information centre.

FNH's public relations spokesman Peter Heath described claims the wharf would effectively be privatised ''as alarmist hogwash''.

''The wharf is not being moved out of public control. In fact, the public currently have very little say or control about what happens with that wharf. Under the shared governance arrangement, the community will have a far greater say."

Heath said the wharf is in a bad state of repair and is more of a liability than an asset.

FNH wants to develop it using $1.114 million Provincial Growth Funding offered by Regional Development Minister Shane Jones.

The ''Shane Jones'' offer came unexpectedly while the wharf's future was already being discussed, and enabled the plans to expand, Heath said.

That was why there were three spearate non-notifiable conset applications, he said.

Of 13 specific projects in the Long Term Plan, the wharf proposal received the most submissions: 557 in a total of 866, most in favour of the hand-over.

Waterfront trust (RWWT) chairman Riki Kinnaird disputes some submitters' claims there was little public consultation.

"The residents of Russell listened for weeks and weeks to the arguments both for and against transfer of the wharf and decided by a two thirds majority to submit to the long-term plan in favour of the transfer.

''We believe everyone has a voice [but] when the majority of our town get organised, partner with people who can help, and want to move forward the actions of a noisy few should not be allowed to dominate either the democratic process or, as an important part of that process, the media agenda,'' he said.

''Our community is being creative to safeguard its future prospects. We, and most of the townspeople of Russell, believe sincerely that a partnership approach with Far North Holdings is the best way to safeguard the future of the wharf.''