A trust has raised just over half the $4 million it needs to build a new visitor and education centre at Te Mata Peak and is now applying for resource consent from the Hastings District Council to build the project.
Award-winning architect Christopher Kelly will design the centre which is being headed by the Te Mata Peak Trust.
The trust opted for the consent to be fully notified, which meant it would be open to the public for feedback. It requested public submissions open mid-January to ensure the views of the whole community were heard.
Once publicly notified, submitters had 20 working days to send in submissions.
Trust chair Bruno Chambers said $2.2 million had been raised towards the project and a major fundraising event was planned in early 2012 to help reach the $4 million target.
Construction could begin when the project was fully-funded and consented. Hastings District Council was contributing $1.1 million, Hawke's Bay Regional Council $500,000 and Napier City Council $250,000.
"We are confident the funding will materialise and having the support of the three councils will act as a great springboard towards that goal.
"We will apply to the Lotteries Commission. It likes to see a resource consent for a project partially processed prior to considering any applications so that's why we have held off applying to them so far."
Mr Chambers said Te Mata Peak was Hawke's Bay's most iconic and visited attraction.
"This centre will enrich the visitor experience promoting the unique peak environment, the many park activities and history of this iconic landmark.
"We've had a huge amount of positive support from the whole region for what I'm sure will prove to be a valuable community facility."
Visitors to the centre, to be located off the lower carpark, will hear the history of Te Mata, about the unique flora and fauna, about the Peak's geological character and its intriguing social history.
Its circular building will include a viewing platform looking over 180-degree vistas across the Heretaunga Plains and Napier.
The centre will be the destination for bus tours, increasing safety on the peak by eliminating the need for large vehicles to go higher to the summit.
It would be the focal point of the park, making it accessible for schools and public regardless of age or ability. It would also provide a meeting place for park user groups, space for education programmes, a cafe and facilities, such as toilets, for the more than 200,000 visitors the peak attracts each year. Access to the centre will be free.
Hawke's Bay fundraising consultancy Giblin Group would continue to work on securing money for the project from philanthropists and charitable trusts.
Te Mata Park is managed and maintained by a voluntary trust and a paid part-time caretaker is assisted by a team of around 20 volunteers from Friends of Te Mata Park.