Councillors put off Hagley Oval decision

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 11:51 20/11/2012
Hagley Oval
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Hagley Oval: This graphic illustrates the scale of the proposed oval in relation to Hagley Park.

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For the second time in a month, city councillors have put off making a decision on whether to allow Canterbury Cricket's proposed development in Hagley Park because they claim they are still unclear who has the ultimate say.

Their lawyers have advised they cannot stop Canterbury Cricket's proposed development of Hagley Oval going ahead because it was included in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, a statutory document that overrides the two key pieces of legislation governing Hagley Park.

But the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has repeatedly denied the plan compels the council to proceed with the development.

Faced with those two conflicting viewpoints, councillors last month decided to defer a decision on the oval development until they had received written clarification from Cera on why it had included a redeveloped Hagley Oval in the recovery plan and what its intentions were for the site.

The council was due to revisit the controversial issue at its meeting on Thursday but the matter has now been deferred until the council's next meeting, on December 6, because it has yet to receive the clarification it was seeking from Cera.

Cr Yani Johanson, who chairs the council's community recreation and culture committee, said it was unfair to ask councillors to make a decision on the oval development without that clarification as the situation as it stood was very confusing.

''It is important that we get it right because there will be angry and happy people on both sides of the argument. If it ends up in court it is important the proper process has been followed,'' Johanson said.

He was not sure why it was taking Cera so long to clarify its position but he hoped the matter would be resolved shortly.

But Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee's response to parliamentary questions put by Green MP Eugenie Sage clearly indicate the decision on the development of the oval rests solely with the council.

''The inclusion of Hagley Oval in the recovery plan provides for but does not however legalise and commit to the upgrading and use of the oval for international matches including the Cricket World Cup games in 2015.

"Whether or not Christchurch City Council proceeds with this development is in the hands of Christchurch City Council,'' Brownlee said in response to Sage's questions.

Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon said the continued delays in reaching a decision were frustrating.

Time was ticking by and it was going to become increasingly difficult to meet any deadline World Cup Cricket might put on the construction of a venue should Christchurch's bid for hosting rights be accepted.

The bid, which was still being finalised, assumed Hagley Oval would be developed as international venue; if that didn't happen Christchurch had no chance of hosting matches as there was no alternative venue.

''It's really getting to the point where a decision just needs to be made,'' Germon said.

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