Panel endorses bid to build Hagley Oval lights

One of the hurdles on the way to building six new controversial 48.9m lights at Christchurch's Hagley Oval has been cleared.

After considering more than 2200 public submissions, a hearings panel has recommended Christchurch City Council grant a new ground lease for the oval to the Canterbury Cricket Trust which wants the permanent lights installed.

“We have listened to many submitters and have read more than 2200 written submissions," said city councillor and hearings panel chairwoman Melanie Coker. 

"The vast majority of those submissions – 93 per cent – voiced strong support for CCT being given a new ground lease."

The high number of submissions came after New Zealand Cricket sent an e-newsletter to cricket fans nationwide, outlining its support of the trust’s bid to install the lights.

The trust already has a ground lease for the Hagley Oval Pavilion and four lighting towers but it is requesting a new lease to install additional lighting towers to meet international broadcast standards.

The trust wants to use earthquake recovery laws to fast track the installation of the lights in a bid to secure high-profile games for the 2021 Women’s Cricket World Cup.

The additional lights can only be installed if there is an amendment to the District Plan to make them a permitted activity.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration associate minister Poto Williams is now considering whether she will use her powers under the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act to amend the plan to allow the lights.

Her decision is expected before Christmas.

Melanie Coker.
Melanie Coker.
Cr Coker said the panel repeatedly heard people who wanted Christchurch to be able to host top international cricket games.

“They want to be able to see the best teams and players in the world," she said. 

"They want young children to be inspired by cricket heroes and to be excited about participating in the sport, which has obvious health and well-being benefits.

“We also heard from some people who are concerned about the potential impacts on Hagley Park. It is a treasured space and people are very protective of its open landscape, character and heritage values."

Christchurch Hospital staff have voiced opposition to the lights, saying the crowds that could attend the high-profile night matches would make it even more difficult for staff, patients and visitors to park near the hospital.

Said Cr Coker: “We have weighed up all the feedback and we have decided to recommend the council grant CCT a new ground lease, should the minister decide that changes should be made to the District Plan.

“The purpose of Hagley Oval is to be a recreational space that the people of Christchurch and visitors to our city can enjoy.

"As a panel, we feel granting the lease will ultimately help fulfil this aim.”

The city council will consider the panel's recommendation on the ground lease when it meets on Thursday, December 19.