There's great news for the Christchurch cricket fraternity this afternoon; The Press reports:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
This is a real boost for Christchurch, without an international cricket venue since February 2011 when the earthquake did significant damage to AMI Stadium.
Having missed out on the Rugby World Cup in 2011, it is wonderful that Christchurch will now get to play a significant role in Cricket's World Cup in 2015. We have already blocked out 14 February 2015 in our diary, and if we can get tickets to the World Cup opener, we will be there.
It's not quite a done deal yet though; there is still one more hurdle to be crossed:
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.
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.
Hagley Park is a wonderful asset for Christchurch, and the addition of an international cricket facility will add to that. The Environment Court appears to have struck an excellent balance between the concerns of opponents of the project, and those who advocated for cricket at Hagley Park. Now that the decision has been made and the conditions have been laid out, it is time for everyone to move forward together.