After more than a year of flip- flopping, the Wellington City Council has finally stated its position on the Basin Reserve flyover.
The council offered its support to the $90 million project yesterday at a board of inquiry hearing - but made it very clear that its support came with conditions.
Top of its list of demands was that the New Zealand Transport Agency build the biggest pavilion it could in order to completely block the flyover from view inside the Basin.
Otherwise the flyover could "severely damage" the historic venue's test status, council lawyer Kerry Anderson said.
"This would result in irreparable damage to the historical and cultural heritage of the Basin Reserve and potentially the death of test match cricket."
A four-member board is considering the Transport Agency's resource consent application to build a two-lane flyover, 20 metres north of the Basin Reserve.
The agency has said it will build a three-storey pavilion at the ground's northern entrance to shield the highway from view. Three designs have been proposed, ranging in length from 45m to 65m.
Ms Anderson, who also represents the Basin Reserve Trust, said the main concern was that traffic on the flyover would distract batsmen and fielders and ruin the "ambience and boutique atmosphere" of the ground, with the trust concerned the agency took a narrow view when assessing the flyover's impact on the Basin.
"It focused solely on the potential distraction to a batsman at the southern end of the wicket," Ms Anderson said.
"It failed to properly appreciate a batsman's actual line of sight and visual distraction of other players, namely fielders."
The Transport Agency has said its preferred option is to build a 65m pavilion.
But there was some confusion yesterday about whether that commitment was etched in stone.
Board member David McMahon said there appeared to be some "vagueness" in the consent conditions about whether the agency was compelled to build any accompanying buildings if its application was granted.
Ms Anderson said the council also wanted to see more work done to soften the visual impact of the flyover from Ellice St.
More pedestrian crossings were also needed, as was a rethink of the Adelaide Rd intersection, which could force motorists entering Rugby St into a dangerous weaving situation.
Earlier in the day, Transport Agency lawyer Andrew Cameron said that while it was not possible to completely hide the flyover from view, the agency had done the best it possibly could to soften its look.
The proposed pavilion, extensive planting in and around the area, and a showroom-style building underneath would ensure there was only a "moderate" impact on the landscape, he said.
Board of inquiry head Judge Gordon Whiting said there did not appear to be any disagreement over whether the agency had done all it could to make the flyover more attractive.
"The disagreement is that it doesn't work - the idea that you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear."
- The Dominion Post
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