Public input wanted on sports hub

AMBITIOUS PLANS: A $107m sports hub at Nga Puna Wai reserve is proposed.
AMBITIOUS PLANS: A $107m sports hub at Nga Puna Wai reserve is proposed.

A proposal to build an ambitious new sports hub in the west of Christchurch will go out to the public for comment.

Christchurch City Council staff have been investigating developing a sports hub on Nga Puna Wai reserve, next to the Canterbury Agricultural Park, to house new facilities for athletics, hockey and tennis. They have had a concept plan drawn up for the sports hub and preliminary estimates done which suggest the project could cost around $107 million.

They selected Nga Puna Wai as the preferred site for the proposed sports hub because it provided more than 30 hectares of useable space within 6km of the central city and was already owned by the council, but the Canterbury A&P Association is strongly opposed to development because of the implications for its own operations.

Earlier this month, its lawyers wrote to the council questioning its processes. In the letter, the association suggested alternative locations had not been properly considered and council officers had a pre-determined view on Nga Puna Wai.

In response to those concerns, the council this morning voted to get an independent peer review done of its site selection process. That review, which is expected to be completed within two weeks, will look at whether there are other any practicable options that have not been considered.

The findings of that review will be fed into a statement of proposal the council intends releasing to the public as part of a special consultative procedure that is designed to canvas views on whether the sports hub should go ahead.

Council recreation and sport development manager Simon Battrick said the entire special consultative procedure should take no more than three months.

Cr Yani Johanson said timeframes were critical because of the potential involvement of external sporting bodies.

"It's really important we get this out because we need to give some certainty to the external sporting codes as to whether this project is going ahead or not.''

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck said she liked the plan for the sports hub and wanted to get it out for public consultation as soon as possible.

"We've heard from tennis, athletics, hockey and various other ones about how they want to put facilities on the site. I would do it faster if we could,'' Buck said.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel also voiced her support for the project.

"I know we're going to find a good result out of this,'' she said.

The Press