Hagley Park school sport may get bowled

High school sports in Hagley Park could be affected if an international cricket venue is built in Christchurch's "largest educational classroom", says an opponent of the development.

Former regional sports director for Canterbury secondary schools Kerry Henderson yesterday told an Environment Court hearing that Hagley Park was vital to the success of interschool sport on Wednesday afternoons.

Christchurch was the only city in New Zealand where secondary schools closed early on Wednesday afternoons so students could take part in sports.

Many, including cricket, tennis, netball and touch, were based at Hagley Park, Henderson said, but Canterbury Cricket's proposal to develop Hagley Oval threatened this.

"We cannot allow Canterbury Cricket to slice off a part of this resource."

An international cricket match on a Wednesday could see parts of the park no longer available for school games or parking.

While matches were held elsewhere in Christchurch on Wednesday afternoons, if games could not be played at Hagley Park the entire programme would be unviable and would have to be cancelled, he said.

Earlier, Boffa Miskell landscape architect William Field said the proposal would give more "visual coherency" within the park, particularly with the grass embankment and two-storey pavilion.

"I actually think ... that this proposal overall would be an enhancement to the space. It would change the character, but from a landscape point of view it would enhance it."

Overlapping layers of foliage around the park helped to disguise the four proposed 49-metre-high lighting towers, Field told the hearing, but he admitted under cross-examination that two of the light towers could potentially endanger some trees.

"There's a likelihood that some trees may need some branches pruned, but it could be quite a subtle management of the canopies ... But, nonetheless getting someone who knows what they are doing is the best way to go about it."

He said that, while the risk was not too great, it would be sensible to have an arborist do an evaluation of the trees and prune them or advise how to work around them.

The hearing continues today.

The Press