Hagley Oval development gets go-ahead

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 16:16 14/08/2013
Hagley Oval
An image of the proposed development for Hagley Oval.
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Canterbury Cricket's controversial plans to develop Hagley Oval as an international venue have been given the thumbs up by the Environment Court.

In a decision released today, Judge Jane Borthwick granted interim resource consent to develop the venue, subject to a number of conditions.

The application, lodged with the Christchurch City Council late last year, drew more than 200 submissions from the public.

It is unusual for a consent application to go directly to the Environment Court, but the city council decided to bypass the normal decision-making process because of the controversy over the proposed development and the likelihood that any decision it made would be appealed to the Environment Court.

Council recreation and sports unit manager John Filsell said the announcement was good news.

"The matter will now come back to elected members to consider whether to grant a ground lease to Canterbury Cricket for the proposed pavilion and light towers. The council's normal consenting process around the building of the pavilion and lights will need to be followed."

He said councillors would also have to decide if they wanted to release funds that were allocated in the 2012-13 annual plan for the cost of the low-rise grass embankment.

"$1.65 million was set aside for work on Hagley Oval, with $565,000 having already been used to upgrade the wicket, level the outfield and drainage and irrigation work."

The Environment Court decision is still open to appeal at the High Court, with applicants having 15 working days to file a point of law appeal.

Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon said this afternoon the organisation was "delighted" with the decision.

''While we are very pleased with this decision we know that the matter now needs to go before the [council] to consider whether to grant a lease to Canterbury Cricket for the proposed pavilion and light towers.

''We are obviously hopeful the council will approve this.''

Canterbury Cricket would need to consider in detail the decision and work through the conditions to see what the implications would be for the development.

CONDITIONS INCLUDE:

- No more than 13 match days allocated to major fixtures within any cricket season.

- The total number of days that temporary facilities and structures associated with major fixtures may occupy the oval are not to exceed 40 days per season.

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- Two or more major fixtures may be scheduled within the same week, provided that on each occasion this occurs the total number of days that temporary facilities and structures may occupy the oval shall not exceed 14 consecutive days.

- No more than two fixtures exceeding 12,000 spectators may be scheduled in any three-year period.

- 2015 World Cup matches are not to be counted within the 13 match days. The condition limiting the use of temporary grandstands is not to apply to any fixtures that are scheduled as part of the 2015 World Cup. Two World Cup fixtures may be scheduled Monday to Thursday inclusive, otherwise the fixtures are to be scheduled Friday to Sunday.

- The light headframes are to be removed at the end of the cricket season.

ON TRACK FOR 2015 WORLD CUP

The decision means Canterbury Cricket can push ahead with plans to get it ready in time for the 2015 World Cup.

Tournament organisers confirmed last month the city will host the opening match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka on Valentine's Day 2015, plus two other pool games.

Two matches featuring England, West Indies and South Africa will be staged at Hagley Oval. A further four warmup and qualifying matches are scheduled for Christchurch and nearby Lincoln.

However, despite the favourable ruling, World Cup games in Christchurch are still a long way from a done deal.

Canterbury Cricket still need to get approval for lease of the land and a scope of works from the Christchurch City Council.

The council has yet to vote on the proposal.

During the hearing, Germon said Canterbury cricketers would benefit from the development long after the showpiece international tournament.

''The vision for Hagley Oval is a ground for all generations, for hundreds of years,'' he said.

''The proposal meets the current and future needs of cricket in our city.''

Germon said the proposal followed a 10-year search for a suitable venue and had been designed to have a minimal impact on the environment while still meeting International Cricket Council (ICC) requirements.

Meanwhile, Margo Perpick, for Hands off Hagley, which opposes the plan, said during her closing submission at the hearing that consent should be declined.

''When all of the effects of the international cricket venue application are assessed, it is more consistent with the overall goal of (the Central Christchurch Recovery Plan) to decline the application than to grant it.''

While an international venue might bring some social and cultural benefits, positioning it in South Hagley Park would have ''so many and such significant adverse effects'' that it would hurt the recovery overall, she said.

The month-long hearing was before Judge Borthwick and commissioners Anne Leijnen and David Bunting and finished on July 8.

- The Press

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