Hagley Oval upgrade 'tricky' legally

Christchurch City councillors have been warned to tread carefully around the legal issues of any major Hagley Oval cricket upgrade.

A deputation to the council's audit and risk subcommittee yesterday hammered home to councillors that the council was entering a legal minefield on any proposal to establish an international cricket ground at the site.

Members of the Christchurch Civic Trust and Save Hagley Park outlined to the subcommittee the legislation protecting Hagley Park and questioned work now under way on the wicket block and proposals to turn the oval into an international venue.

The oval was put forward for that purpose in the central-city blueprint released this month. The move came as a surprise to many.

At the meeting, Save Hagley Park member and retired city council director of parks Neiel Drain said establishing international sporting facilities in the park would be "very difficult to justify for a number of reasons".

They included the intent of the Reserves Act, the provisions of the park's management plan, developed with public input, and legislation enacted in 1855 giving the park special status.

"While some might question some past decisions, I believe the original intent for Hagley Park has overall been faithfully observed by administrative bodies throughout its long history."

The council had begun on its upgrade of the oval's wicket block, Drain said.

"But don't go beyond that. I think you are on tricky ground legally."

He was unaware of any leases having been granted for international facilities in "the people's park".

Members of the subcommittee tried to pass a resolution to get council staff to prepare a report for them on the risks of the council's decision-making on the oval upgrade.

But corporate services general manager Paul Anderson said such a move would be beyond the terms of reference of the new subcommittee.

It was decided that while new terms of reference were drafted a staff report should instead be sent to the community, recreation and culture subcommittee.

The Press