Hagley Oval earmarked for fast-track consents

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012

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A redeveloped Hagley Oval was included in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan so the Government could fast-track consents if Christchurch wins World Cup hosting rights.

The recovery plan does not force the city council to give approval to the development of Hagley Oval as an international cricket venue.

However, legally the council cannot do anything that is inconsistent with the plan.

The plan states Hagley Oval can be turned into a venue capable of hosting domestic cricket matches and tests, with floodlights for limited-over internationals. It allows for a new pavilion and a raised embankment with a spectator capacity of 15,000 to 20,000.

In a council document that will go before councillors on Thursday, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) says the oval was included in the plan because Cera wanted to ease consent processes should Christchurch win rights to host games in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

If the city's bid for games succeeds, those processes will need to be completed by October 2013 and the facilities in place by the end of 2014.

Legally the Christchurch City Council cannot stop Canterbury Cricket from applying for a resource consent to develop the oval.

As the application relates to council-owned land, it will either be considered by an independent commissioner or it could be referred directly to the Environment Court. The public will be able to lodge submissions either supporting or opposing the resource consent application. However, the decision reached by the consenting authority must be consistent with the recovery plan.

Once the Resource Management Act (RMA) process is completed, the Christchurch City Council will have to make two decisions: whether it will lease the land to Canterbury Cricket and whether it will commit the $1.65 million it earmarked during the Annual Plan process for the development of the embankments and the practice pitches.

Asked if that meant the council had to grant Canterbury Cricket a lease on the land, Christchurch City Council community services general manager Michael Aitken said: "Excellent question. I wish I knew the answer. We can't do anything inconsistent with the plan, but the plan doesn't make us do anything.

As the public would have already been consulted during the RMA process, the council would not need to seek public submissions on whether the land should be leased to Canterbury Cricket. That issue would be considered by the council through its normal processes.

Council community recreation and culture committee chairman Yani Johanson said the key decision councillors would have to make on Thursday was whether to refer Canterbury Cricket's resource consent application directly to the Environment Court or to an independent commissioner.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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