Case made for test cricket at oval

"It appears drab, unloved and obscured by many later additions." - Architect Jackie Gillies on...
"It appears drab, unloved and obscured by many later additions." - Architect Jackie Gillies on the former art gallery building at Logan Park
The University Oval, in Dunedin, could attract test matches with cricketing heavyweights England and India if the ground's boundaries are extended.

Otago Cricket Association chief executive Ross Dykes said those teams, which bring with them extensive media contingents, were "absolutely" a possibility for the future.

Mr Dykes made his submission yesterday at a resource consent hearing into the demolition of three bays of the former art gallery building at Logan Park, and said New Zealand Cricket had "categorically stated" Dunedin would be considered for matches with all member nations.

For the Cricket World Cup, due to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2015, that meant the Oval should be able to attract quarterfinals, as well as pool games, he said.

The extension of the ground would allow, with extended embankments and temporary seating, a crowd of up to 9000.

The Dunedin City Council took to yesterday's hearing its plan to demolish part of the former art gallery to make way for the expansion of the Oval.

Subject to consent being granted, the council may begin the work later this year.

The application received only seven submissions: five supporting the proposal and two neutral.

The decision to demolish part of the building, which has a category one heritage rating and is protected in the city's district plan, was announced in March, after a compromise was reached between the council and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The compromise meant the trust would support the council's resource consent application as long as the council placed a binding covenant on its title which would ensure the remainder of the building remained.

The bays to be demolished for the $5 million project were part of a structure built for the 1925-26 South Seas Exhibition.

Counsel Lauren Semple led the council's case before commissioners Allan Cubitt (chairman), David Benson-Pope and Cr Colin Weatherall.

The plan involved demolishing the three bays; removal of the art education block, the Sargood wing and conservation wing; the restoration of the former art gallery building; and development of a courtyard area where the Sargood wing had been.

Ms Semple told the commissioners the project would enhance Logan Park, allow for expansion of the oval, re-instate the architectural cohesiveness of the building, respect the history of the building and allow for its adaptive re-use.

Conservation specialist and architect Jackie Gillies said the decision to demolish the bays was "not taken lightly".

On the building's heritage value, Ms Gillies said it did not, today, rank alongside buildings such as the Dunedin Railway Station or Municipal Chambers.

"It appears drab, unloved and obscured by many later additions."

It was logical its re-use should be related to the sporting and recreational function of Logan Park, but its spaces needed to be flexible, and ancillary uses could include wedding receptions, balls, public meetings and lectures, or overflow space for the University of Otago or Otago Polytechnic.

Among proposed modifications, the original entrance portico would be re-instated, and large panels included that would show the historical significance of the building, including photographs and information about the former art gallery, the Sargood family's input and the architect, Edmund Anscombe.

The meeting was adjourned for the commissioners to make their decision.


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