Tonkin & Taylor Aquatic Centre Report
Friday, September 21, 2018 at 1:26PM
Bill Barclay

Council discussed on Tuesday the purchase of land south of the Thames Airfield for the purpose of siting the Regional Aquatic Centre that was included in the Ten Year Plan.

I have no idea at this stage as to the outcome of that process – everyone is very ‘tight-lipped.’ But I can say that Denis Tegg for one was not impressed, and obtained the relative documents under the OIA prior to the meeting. He made a submission in Public Forum that did noy go down well. The Council had earlier dealt with the Tonkin & Taylor Report on the suitability of the land in question in a workshop.

Denis’s valid concerns, and request for a full legal report on the likely jeopardy of pursuing this proposal in its present form, are summarised below, but first I have posted the Executive Summary of the Tonkin & Taylor Report so that readers can fully understand the relaxed approach adopted by this consultancy in arriving at its conclusion that “There are no fatal flaws” in the proposed development.

You may come to a different conclusion.

Here is the Executive Summary of the Tonkin & Taylor Report on the Thames Aerodrome Pre-Feasibility Site Study for a Regional Aquatic Centre,

Executive summary

Tonkin & Taylor Ltd (T+T) has undertaken a Pre-Feasibility Study for Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC), assessing the proposed regional swimming pool complex development of Site 1: Aerodrome South.

The assessment of this site was part of a wider study for TCDC to assess envisaged future developments at three sites located in or near the Thames Aerodrome, immediately south of Thames. The assessment for Site 1: Aerodrome South covered the following pre-feasibility engineering considerations:

T+T has assessed that, based on the engineering aspects considered, there are no 'fatal flaws' to developing the southern area of the Aerodrome for a regional swimming complex. Projected sea level rise results in 100 Year ARI storm tide levels of 4.14 m for the 2120 projection. To continue to defend the area against this projected sea level rise, the stopbank design crest level would need to be raised by 1.14 m (and up to 1.6 m at existing low points in the stopbank).  (my bold)

As we have not undertaken any flood modelling, TCDC may wish to undertake further flood modelling in conjunction with WRC. This would incorporate updated sea level rise projections and model the effects of stopbank raising on the river systems, in particular the Kauaeranga River spillway across SH25.

The potential required increase in stopbank height is considered feasible in geotechnical terms. We expect that the potential geotechnical design constraints identified in this report could be addressed by appropriate design.

The key geotechnical considerations that will need to be addressed during detailed design are: seismic liquefaction potential; earthworks considerations; consolidation settlement (arising from surcharging from building loads or increasing site levels); foundation options; and stopbank stability. These considerations are addressed in this report, however we consider these can likely be addressed by appropriate design.

Results of soil sampling show that there are elevated concentrations of metals within the near surface soils (fill and topsoil), however the measured concentrations do not present a risk to human health or the environment, based on the current and proposed future land use. There is no evidence to suggest that ground contamination issues would constrain the proposed development of the site although they may add cost to development.

Due to previous hazardous activities and industries that have occurred on site, a resource consent is likely to be required as part of the requirements under the National Environmental Standards for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health. The current soil testing results indicate that change in use or subdivision of the site can be undertaken as a permitted activity. We expect that this report could be used to form part of the resource consent application (if required).

We advise that Council take into consideration these findings when deciding on the next stages of the proposed development

This a a precis of the comments by Denis Tegg on the Tonkin & Taylor Study prepared and presented at the Public Forum on 18 November.

Firstly, let me make it clear that I am not opposed to a new swimming pool in or near Thames.  But it is my belief that the proposed airfield site is inappropriate and risky, and that we need a better site. I consider that the Tonkin & Taylor report has certain deficiencies, but more important, that a prefeasibility legal assessment is just as important.

I set out here the reasons I believe this to be the case.

  1. there is a significant increase in value of assets – ($25 million in this case)
  2. the effects are irreversible (the swimming pool will not be transportable) and
  3. the asset will important for several generation

Other Matters

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (
See website for complete article licensing information.