If there’s one thing which hacks me off it’s a group which has an attitude of “divine right” to anything. When I was Mayor one of the groups which was almost impossible to please was the cricket community. They frequently reminded me that their game was the “Game of Kings”. They constantly moaned about Lancaster Park, in my opinion quite justifiably, as they had been shoved aside by rugby. I often mused to myself that with Lancaster Park I was often deliberating between the pot and the kettle.
We created a delightful “cricket green” at QEII at the cost of $1m. But that was never good enough. We could never win.
Then the earthquakes came. All the normal planning processes were swept aside. In most cases this was completely justified. However, the cricket mafia were in like robbers’ dogs. They positioned themselves in key places and they finally obtained a part of Hagley Park, which according to their “divine right” thinking, was theirs as of right. This argument was because cricket was played at Hagley Park from the start of the true British settlement. My retort has always been that so was horse racing, and we wouldn’t let that back in. This fell on deaf ears as this community had positioned itself close to the power base which formed after the earthquakes.
Some of us objected to tying up a good amount of Hagley Park for one sport. Unfortunately, the Earthquake Legislation was on Cricket’s side, and they got to build the Hagley Stadium as of right.
I would be the first to say that they did a great job with what they created. However, my original objection remains. Hagley Park is sacred and there should be few, if any, new buildings constructed on it, and it should not be locked up just for one sport. No matter what is said, this area is really only useful for one thing. Playing cricket. The rest of us peer over the fence into the ground we all own. Cricket ended up the peerage. The rest of Christchurch citizens ended up as the serfs looking on.
Here’s a photo of some cricket lovers waiting to get into their rightful place at Hagley Park cricket stadium.
Now the cricket advocates have decided that their divine right should extend to their being able to change their current arrangements, and put even more lights into the place and leave them there permanently. They have applied under the Earthquake legislation, under Section 71, to have the Minister allow them to undertake this exercise.
The excuse is the World Women’s Cricket Tournament, which they have to bid for by later this year. The urgency is bollocks. They have known about this for years and that they would have to have different lights if they are to get the sort of coverage they need in India (which of course is all about money, its nothing to do with sport). So, they must have decided that they would bypass the legislation which would require public input and try and sneak in the side door of decision making.
I represent the Christchurch Civic Trust on the Hagley Park Advisory Committee. We had a meeting last week where we were given a verbal briefing on what the CCC staff were thinking about the application. It was really interesting to listen to the planner’s concern about the application. They were completely objective about the pros and cons of what was in front of them. They were just concerned that the excuses given to apply for bypassing normal procedures were difficult to justify.
Here’s what they would have to do if they applied under the normal course, under the RMA:
4.13 If the Proposal to amend the District Plan to insert permitted activities related to the operation and use of Hagley Oval is approved, these activities would still need to comply with obligations under the Reserves Act. This means that activities would be required to be consistent with the Recreation Reserve classification of Hagley Park and the Hagley Park Management Plan. In the case of new permanent floodlights, this could involve either a new lease or a variation to the existing lease, which would require Council approval and potential public notification. The Council must consider the proposed amendments and their effects within the statutory context outlined above.
- The question of “which would require Council approval and potential public notification” relates to whether or not the actual design will definitely require more than the 4 approved towers on the same footprint as is currently allowed for in the lease or not. So:
- If there is no change to the current approved lease then no notification is required in respect to the existing lease
- If the design requires relocation of the towers and or an increase in towers as has been suggested then a new lease would be required.
The Hagley Park Advisory Committee were told:
To explain this, Council has not received an actual design associated to the requested amendment at this time as the Minister has not yet made a decision to proceed. At this time Council is merely responding, as required as a strategic partner under Section 71 of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 to provide feedback in relation to Section 19 Outline for Plan or amendment relating to greater Christchurch, noting that Council has a statutory 30 working days to complete this, or the party would be considered to have no views on the matter.
So, the elected Council had a paper in front of them last week. There is no formal design. The whole thing is disgraceful. The Cricket advocates dusted off all their old heroes who appeared in front of the Council, complete with their cricket ties. These submitters were really a distraction from the fact that the cricket advocates (where there is a large preponderance of lawyers, who should have known better about following the rules…they make them for most of the rest of us to abide by) had decided to take a path which would minimise public consultation on a precious part of Christchurch, which they think they have God-given right to.
Here’s how the Press covered this debate. I believe that the Council spent hours deliberating this misuse of legislation and they are to consider it again in the next week.
My advice to the Mayor and Councillors is this:
Ignore all the “worthies” who appeared in front of you last week. Ignore the pleas of “urgency”. Listen to the advice of your planners. Make Cricket go through the normal processes required for anything in Hagley Park and do not get distracted by this falsely created urgency. Say NO. We don’t agree to this. You are the custodians of Hagley Park. You hold it in trust and what cricket managed to get through post quakes was totally out of line with the Hagley Park Management Plan.