The cricket mafia continue their push for the Government to breach the unanimously approved Act which governs Christchurch and allow them to change their existing permit, supposedly to get access to a well-paying game with India. This isn’t about cricket it’s about money. Our Park will be once again incrementally “modified” this time in the interests of Indian commercial interests.
Here’s what Chris Kissling, Chair of Christchurch Civic Trust wrote about the situation we are facing over the application to modify the park, yet again:
Regenerate Christchurch seems blind to the intent of parliament regarding specific amendments inserted within its empowering legislation, the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act (GCR Act). The use of s71 to support the Canterbury Cricket Trust’s desire to change the Christchurch District Plan would likely trigger amendments to Hagley Park’s Management Plan (HPMP) as approved in 2007 under the Reserves Act 1977. Such an outcome is excluded, explicitly, in the GCR Act as detailed below.
Regardless whether or not the actions of Regenerate Christchurch constitute the initiation of a regeneration plan, the abiding heritage treasure in the centre of our city is again under threat from one interest group.
In 2012 a Cricket World Cup beckoned. Christchurch would miss out if an International Cricket Council (ICC)-compliant venue was not available. Legally trained cricketing brains spotted and exploited the Ministerial powers embedded in the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Act (CER Act). A mandatory Resource Management ACT (RMA) hearing was fast tracked to the Environment Court, with much detail hastily crafted as it progressed.
The HPMP posed an obstacle for those wishing to develop Hagley Oval as an international cricket venue. Insertion of Hagley Oval as a last moment provisional undesignated place-holder in the Christchurch Recovery Plan meant that s26(3) of the CER Act was used to nullify the HPMP, as the Recovery Plan prevailed if there were any inconsistencies between these two documents.
In the Environment Court Decision at paragraph  the Court states “it is arguable that but for the CER Act the City Council, as the administering body of the Park, could not authorise the use of the Park for the purpose (at least) of constructing the Pavilion and the lighting towers” footnote 298 noting Objective 17, Policy 17.1 (d) of the HPMP.
The Court also observed  “The lights jar with the Recovery Plan’s ‘village green’ ethos which the enhanced Cricket Oval is to achieve.”
Furthermore, the Court noted at  “Hands Off Hagley and many other parties opposing the grant of consent are concerned about the effect of this proposal on Park character and amenity; and we think justifiably so.”
The Court also found at  “for the purposes of section 6(f)RMA we find Hagley Park is an area of historic and cultural heritage derived from its landscape design.” The evidence for that observation led later to a direction from the central government appointed Independent Hearings Panel that Hagley Park be listed as a heritage site in the Revised Christchurch District Plan.
Fast forward to the current 2019 manoeuvres by the cricketing fraternity.
Surprise – surprise, the four consented light towers, as yet unconstructed, do not meet the current ICC standards and are purported to be too costly. Maybe we should thank the ICC and the tardiness of Canterbury Cricket Trust that they don’t exist or need rebuilding as part of regeneration. Six new permanent light towers soaring 20 metres above the existing tree-tops are wanted. Cricket administrators also seek to modify many of the Environment Court’s conditions of consent (which they recommended to the Court to mitigate valid concerns and to get their foot in the door) as they are now deemed to be inconvenient. The reasons for those conditions are as valid today as when they were issued.
Changes to the Christchurch District Plan’s open space provisions are wanted, a move that would both remove the “village green” character of the Oval, and encourage others to follow cricket’s precedent of commercialising the commons including constructing further significant stadia.
Again, there is the element of distasteful haste to make changes in time to enable a bid for the Women’s Cricket World Cup, similar to the ploy used for the 2012 Cup – even though NZ was identified as host country in 2013.
The chosen temporary legal instrument this time is s71 of the GCR Act which allows for even less public consultation than previously. Whereas the use of the GCR Act is certainly moot for the purpose of the yet to be disclosed detailed District Plan Change proposals, there can be no question that the HPMP can be side-lined. The Hagley Park Management Plan prevails where there is any inconsistency between it and a Regeneration Plan [GCR Act, s63 (5)]
Park has special status which is not to be ignored. Speaking in support of her
Hagley Park amendments, Dr Woods stated in Parliament: “…But what we are
saying is that when it comes to Hagley Park and the protections that have been
built up over that piece of land, it actually is time to return to business as
usual. When it comes to that particular taonga in the centre of our city, we do
need to be able to say “It is as if the earthquakes never happened, and it is
as if the bespoke legislation that is put in place to aid our recovery and our
regeneration does not exist…”
(Hansard – 29 March 2016 https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/51HansS_20160329_00000877/woods-megan-greater-christchurch-regeneration-bill)
Dr Woods also said, “…there are a number of instruments that are used in this legislation, and what my amendments do ensure that the management plan of Hagley Park is the primary instrument and that it is not overridden by anything else that might be in this legislation…” (Hansard – 29 March 2016 https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/51HansS_20160329_00000979/woods-megan-greater-christchurch-regeneration-bill)
The GCR Act allows for other legislation to be amended to achieve its purposes, but in s63 (1) (e) (iv) pertaining to management plans approved under section 41 of the Reserves Act 1977 the clause contains the words with the exception of the Hagley Park Management Plan. Further, in s71 (3) the words appear but not changes or variations to the Hagley Park Management Plan under the Reserves Act 1977 which makes it unambiguously clear that the GCR Act cannot cause or require changes to the protections provided for Hagley Park in its statutory management plan. Nor could the Christchurch City Council issue complying leases for the proposed six light towers under the Reserves Act 1977.
In the first innings, a subtle in-swinger, bowled by an anonymous CERA advisor, skittled the HPMP night watchman. In this second innings, the HPMP must stump the cricket (k)nights. Ministerial umpires, like their cricketing cousins, are also open to a Decision Review System – a legal DRS aka a Judicial Review on matters of law.
Chris Kissling, Chair, Christchurch Civic Trust
I know that purists will argue that Hagley Park is not a “natural” park. That’s largely why I love it. There’s plenty of places around this City where nature prevails. In the last couple of weeks, I have ridden my bike a couple of times underneath the Japanese blossoms. It’s a part of the year I love. It reminds me that my original attraction to come and live in Christchurch was Hagley Park.