Hagley Oval development gets court's okay
The Hagley Oval in Christchurch has been cleared by Environmental Court to move ahead with preparations to host matches in the 2015 World Cup. According to reports in New Zealand papers, the court also ruled that the ground can host 13 days of major-cricket fixtures a year and New Zealand Cricket, aside from the World Cup games, could add temporary seating to boost the ground's capacity from 12,000 to 20,000 twice every three years.
Canterbury Cricket's plans to develop the Hagley Oval as an international cricket venue found opposition from some members of the public, who started a petition that said Hagley Park, within which the ground is located, "was gifted to Christchurch to be reserved as a Public Park forever and for the enjoyment and recreation of all. This proposal goes against that original intention and sets a precedent for the loss of open public space and further commercial development within Hagley Park."
The ground is scheduled to host New Zealand's opening fixture of the World Cup, against Sri Lanka, on February 14. Later on in the tournament, it will host two more group-stage matches, featuring Pakistan and West Indies on February 21 and England and a qualifier on February 23.
The court has not ruled fully in favour of Canterbury Cricket, though, granting them only some concessions. Other specifications state that temporary facilities and structures associated with major-cricket fixtures may not occupy the ground for more than 40 days per season, two or more major fixtures may be scheduled within the same week, provided that on each occasion the temporary facilities and structures don't occupy the ground for more than 14 consecutive days, and floodlight headframes - which are yet to be installed - are to be removed at the end of the cricket season.
Now, the city council will need to approve Canterbury Cricket's plans for the ground. Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon was quoted by papers as saying: "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." The plans for the ground include a built-up pavilion, light towers and a grass embankment.
The group that lodged the petition, Hands off Hagley, has 15 days to appeal the Environmental Court's decision, but this would have to be based on a point of law.