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Future of Eden Park discussed

EMMA WHITTAKER AND BEN ROGERS
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2014
David Kennedy
DAVID KENNEDY: Eden Park chief executive.
Mark Darrah
MARK DARRAH: Development could be a good thing.
Mark Donnelly
MARK DONELLY: Mt Eden won't cope.

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Auckland Council's Stadium Strategy could see test cricket moved from Eden Park to Western Springs.

Eden Park Trust Board's vision for how its number two field cricket field could be used includes building a hotel, restaurants, shops and residential dwellings.

Now that the board's unitary plan submission is available for all to read, what has been the reaction?

FLEXIBILITY KEY 

More flexibility is needed for Eden Park to prosper, chief executive David Kennedy says.

The park hosted 24 fixtures in 2013 for more than 400,000 spectators attending.

But the consents the park has been operating under for the last 20 years, which cover things like night-time events, noise and traffic control, are not always relevant today, he said.

''Eden Park is seeking the inclusion of these redevelopment options now because the Unitary Plan will apply for the next 25 to 30 years.

''Changes would help make the park attractive on national and international levels as well as ensure its financial sustainability. It would also benefit Auckland's economy.

"Development of the number two field can only take place with the full agreement of Auckland Cricket and Auckland Rugby,'' Kennedy said.

The public will have further opportunities to have their say on the Unitary Plan.

WAIT AND SEE GAME

Reimers Ave resident Mark Darrah isn't worried about Eden Park's plans just yet.

He'll make up his mind when he knows the specifics.

"If it's developed the right way it's good."

The cricket ground is under-utilised and more use should be made of it, he said.

Night time sports games aren't usually disruptive, Darrah said. "To be honest the biggest pains are the social events which can go on until midnight."

The plans shouldn't come as a shock to neighbours, Bellwood Ave resident Jose Fowler said.

"I knew what I was up for when I moved in.

"Mt Eden is a character suburb but it is very close to the CBD. Auckland is getting busier. I think it would be very foolish to think that at some point the CBD wouldn't start to encroach on our neighbourhood."

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SUBURB WON'T COPE

Development of this scale would make living near Eden Park like living in the cbd, Eden Park Neighbours Association president Mark Donnelly said.

"It's an incredibly aggressive grab for activities by Eden Park.

"What we're saying is that the whole site and its uses have reached the maximum the area can cope with.

"We've all come into the area based on whatever the tradition was when we came in. I came in 20 years ago enjoying the afternoon games, I struggle with the night games and the impacts of not being able to have people over.

"Then there are people who have come in the last five years, who know the size of it, know the night events and they accept that position. But they still love the number two field.

"Around here we are always worried about our little town centres like Kingsland and Mt Eden village which are crucial to our communities and they will have to compete with brand new retail, so you have to start wondering will it kill those areas as well."

Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes does not support the proposal.

The board's biggest concern is the impact it would have on residents.

"It's madness," he said.

FUTURE OF CRICKET

Auckland Cricket has no intention of leaving Eden Park.

"We've known about the submission for quite some time and it's pretty obvious to say that we are opposed to it," chief executive of Auckland Cricket Mark Cameron says.

"Eden Park openly acknowledges that we have the rights to play cricket here and until we let go of those rights it will be a cricket ground.

"We will put in a counter submission, but at the same time we are acutely aware that this is it for us, this is our home, it has been our home for over 100 years and we are not planning on going anywhere."

Cameron says its important to protect any green space in Auckland, including the number two field.

- Central Leader

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