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Court to decide on Hagley Oval

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 15:35 06/12/2012
Sir Richard Hadlee
Stacy Squires
SIR RICHARD HADLEE: Christchurch is in "desperate need" of a first-class cricket venue.
Sam Martin
Stacy Squires
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Sam Martin addressing city councillors about proposals to develop the Hagley Oval.

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3.30pm: The controversial decision on whether Canterbury Cricket should be granted resource consent to develop Hagley Oval will be made by the Environment Court.

Christchurch City councillors have this afternoon voted 10 to 3 to fast-track the consent application through to the Environment Court rather than to appoint an independent commissioner to first consider the matter.

They believe the issue is so contentious that any decision made by the commissioner is likely to be challenged in the Environment Court so they might as well save time by referring Canterbury Cricket's application directly to the court.

"There's no point hearing submissions twice,'' Cr Sue Wells said.

Cr Tim Carter said a direct referral to the Environment Court, where those for and against the development could present their case, made sense.

"It's so controversial and there are such strong feelings on it, it will go the Environment Court. There's no doubt it is going to go there.

"The big decision (for us) isn't today - it's ... when we consider whether we grant the lease.''

The council will not make a decision on whether to lease the oval to Canterbury Cricket until its resource consent application has been dealt with.

Canterbury Cricket has been desperate to get council's approval to redevelop the oval because it needs the venue to have any chance of securing 2015 World Cup cricket matches for Christchurch.

But because of the strong community views over the sanctity of Hagley Park it has struggled to gain the council's backing for the project.

However, its hopes of getting the project off the ground dramatically improved when the Government included the redevelopment of the oval as a cricket ground capable of hosting domestic cricket matches and limited-over international matches an anchor project in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan.

While the council is responsible for the administration of Hagley Park under section 23 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 the Hagley Park Management Plan, which governs what can happen in Hagley Park, cannot be inconsistent with the Recovery Plan.  

That means the proposed redevelopment of the Hagley Oval is now included in the management plan and the council must not do anything inconsistent with that.

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Cr Yani Johanson said the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan had effectively tied the council's hand and it was now unable to make any substantive decision on Canterbury Cricket's proposal.

"The Hagley Park Management Plan has been effectively changed by the Minister's actions so ... we have a very limited course of action we can take,'' Johanson said.

The fact the Government had chosen to put the oval into the recovery plan, ostensibly to assist the council, when the council had never asked for that to happen was "very disheartening''.

But Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said he wanted it on the record that he supported Canterbury Cricket's proposal and believed it would enhance Hagley Park and the "continuation of a historic past-time in our city''.

Councillors who opposed the consent application going directly to the Envirnoment Court were: Glenn Livingstone, Yani Johanson and Helen Broughton.

Those in favour were: the mayor, Sue Wells, Barry Corbett, Tim Carter, Jimmy Chen, Peter Beck, Jamie Gough, Sally Buck, Aaron Keown, and Ngaire Button.Cr Claudia Reid was absent from the council meeting due to ill health.

The Christchurch City Council's final meeting of the year is set to decide on the future of the Hagley cricket oval, brothels bylaws and the acceptable threshold for quake-prone buildings.

11am: David Thornley, from the Inner City West Neighbourhood group, has urged councillors to reject the proposed development, arguing proper consideration had not been given to alternate venues for international cricket.

He said both the use of Hagley Park for commercial ventures and the impact of the proposed development were inconsistent with the Reserves Act and the Hagley Park Management Act.

Christchurch Civic Trust board member Anne Dingwall told councillors they should defer making a decision today on the oval and instead consider seeking a High Court declaratory judgement on whether the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan did, as the council's lawyers had advised, override the other legislation governing Hagley Park.

Riccarton residents association spokesman Alan Reid said the key question for councillors was whether Hagley Park belonged to all of the city's ratepayers or whether one group should be allowed to make a private profit from the most significant parcel of park land in Canterbury.

Martin Meehan, of Save Hagley Park, said the issue of the World Cup was being used to mask the main issue: whether a cricket stadium for professional sport should be built in Hagley Park.

"The truth is we can still have the World Cup without the permanent stadium,'' Meehan said.

He presented pictures of the proposed lighting towers and said they alone would be a huge blot on Hagley Oval.

10.20am: Peter Hay, president of the Christchurch Junior Cricket Association, said a well-located high-class venue for cricket where boys and girls could watch their heroes would be inspirational.

Surveyor and urban design specialist David Fox said a redeveloped oval would be a winner for the city and the central business district.

10.10am: Christchurch City councillors have begun hearing deputations on the controversial issue of whether Hagley Oval should be developed as an international venue for cricket.

Cricketing great Sir Richard Hadlee and Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon were the first to address councillors. Germon said thousands of people in Christchurch played, followed or supported cricket in Canterbury; they deserved to be able to do that in their own city.

The proposed devleopment balanced the needs of cricket with the needs of the public to still have access to Hagley Park.

"Our proposal will enhance, not detract, from the ground,'' Germon said. 

Hadlee said the Hadlee family had given 76 to years to cricket and fully supported the proposed development of the oval. "We are in desperate need of a venue to host first-class cricket,'' Hadlee said.

"Hagley Oval is a wonderful venue for cricket.

It could become an iconic ground ... and possibly the best venue in New Zealand for cricket.''

- The Press

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