Canterbury Cricket urges haste

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013

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Christchurch will lose its rights to host Cricket World Cup matches in 2015 if planning approval to develop Hagley Oval is not secured by August, Canterbury Cricket has warned.

It is seeking an urgent hearing in the Environment Court on its controversial resource consent application to develop the oval as an international cricket venue amid concern that time is running out.

Canterbury Cricket has already applied to have its application referred directly to the court rather than have it go through normal channels.

Now it is also asking for priority scheduling of the hearing.

Lawyers acting for Canterbury Cricket have sent a 20-page letter to all those who made submissions on its consent application informing them it has lodged a notice of motion with the court requesting the matter is "heard expeditiously".

The letter says Canterbury Cricket is operating under tight time constraints which require a ruling from the court no later than August.

It has to meet deadlines imposed by the World Cup organising committee and have sufficient time to undertake the construction work needed.

In an affidavit filed with the Environment Court, Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon said the organisation did not not have the "luxury of time on its side and has no option but to proceed with its application as a matter of priority in order to preserve its options to host the World Cup".

"The World Cup organising committee has communicated clearly that a failure . . . to meet all construction and funding timelines and milestones will result in the removal of Christchurch as a 2015 Cricket World Cup venue," Germon said.

Save Hagley Park spokesman Martin Meehan said yesterday he was worried that some submitters opposed to the proposed development of the oval would find the letter intimidating.

It warned they could be liable for court costs if Canterbury Cricket's consent application was granted, he said.

"It seems like they're trying to frighten people off," Meehan said. ". . . you only have 15 working days to respond to the letter."

Canterbury Cricket's resource consent application drew about 240 submissions, of which about half supported the proposed development of the oval.

If Canterbury Cricket is granted consent, the Christchurch City Council will still need to decide whether to give them a ground lease for the proposed pavilion and lighting towers.

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- The Press

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