CITY of Newcastle will canvas its plans for the Newcastle and Merewether Ocean Baths "throughout the summer months" in a bid to alleviate community concern and accusations of privatisation.
Labor councillors have lodged a notice of motion to undertake further community consultation after a request for expressions of interest to redevelop or reuse the pavilions in a public-private partnership sparked a rally at the weekend.
The Newcastle Herald has reported non-Labor councillors, who said they were unaware of the baths project until a media release was issued, have questioned the consultation around the call for expressions of interest.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the motion would give the community a chance to have input beyond a previous consultation process carried out in 2014 that drew 550 responses.
"Given the strong community interest in the expression of interest process, I'll be asking douncil staff to begin community consultation this year, and to extend that opportunity to Novocastrians right throughout summer, to ensure that as many people as possible are able to let us know their views," she said.
The motion follows Cr Nelmes telling a Save Our Ocean Baths meeting on Sunday that more consultation would be conducted before the new year.
A Save Our Ocean Baths online petition has drawn nearly 6000 signatures.
If the Labor motion is adopted at the meeting later this month, the council will seek input from swimmers and groups over summer "to help guide any future upgrades".
The motion notes that it would receive petitions from residents, "noting that some petitions contain inaccurate information".
It also "reiterates that City of Newcastle has no plans to privatise Newcastle or Merewether Ocean Baths ... and that under legislation, leases may only be entered into for a maximum period of 21 years".
Councillor Carol Duncan said the majority Labor councillors were committed to retaining the heritage of the baths while upgrading facilities.
"Like many in the community, I strongly support retaining the iconic art-deco facade of Newcastle Ocean Baths and recognise the importance and urgency of undertaking significant capital works to protect this jewel in our city's crown," Cr Duncan said.
Tender documents for Newcastle Ocean Baths show the 5800-square metre lease area includes pavilion buildings, the apron leading to the pool deck and the car park.
Newcastle baths' pavilion must be retained under any changes due to its heritage listing, while Merewether's does not have the same protection.