Group aims to fight bid to develop cricket oval

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
Hagley Oval design proposal
Hagley Oval design proposal

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An umbrella group has been set up to fight Canterbury Cricket's proposed multimillion-dollar development of Hagley Oval.

Hands Off Hagley is being established as as an incorporated society and has engaged a lawyer to argue its case in the Environment Court for leaving the oval as it is.

Spokesman Martin Meehan said Hands Off Hagley brought together several groups and individuals determined to protect the sanctity of Hagley Park. Its sole purpose was to challenge Canterbury Cricket's plans through the court.

The group had been set up as an incorporated society to give members protection in the unlikely event that the court should award costs against them, and it would be disbanded once the legal process had been completed.

Meehan said the group had hired a lawyer but needed to raise about $20,000 for the challenge.

A meeting on Wednesday night, which drew about 50 people, had resolved to call for public donations. "The people who turned out were highly motivated, highly concerned and just wondering how the hell this had happened," Meehan said.

Hands Off Hagley would apply for money through the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund.

Run by the Ministry for the Environment, the fund provides not-for-profit groups with financial assistance to advocate for environmental issues of high public interest in Environment Court cases. The next round of applications will close on January 29.

Meehan said with no date set yet for the Environment Court hearing to consider Canterbury Cricket's resource consent application for developing Hagley Oval, it was unclear how long the group had to raise the necessary funds. He had checked with the court and had been told it had no time for a hearing until June.

Canterbury Cricket will want a hearing as soon as possible because its hopes of hosting World Cup matches in 2015 rest on its plans being approved.

THE APPLICATION

In its application, Canterbury Cricket seeks planning permission to:

- Construct an embankment with an average height of 2.2 metres around Hagley Oval to accommodate 12,000 spectators.

- Construct a two-storey pavilion and grandstand within the embankment beneath a tent-like canopy.

- Install four 30.9-metre-high lighting towers that are 48.9 metres when in use.

- Install temporary stands and scaffolding for televised events, a picket fence along the inside of the oval during matches, and sightscreens.

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The public have until 5pm on Monday, February 4, to make submissions to the Christchurch City Council on Canterbury Cricket's application.

- The Press

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