Archives for posts with tag: Hagley Oval

I have a blog about the Hagley Oval saga over at DailyBlog today. I end up on a tangent about strip clubs…

Asked who would fund the strip club, Brownlee shrugged his shoulders, before pointing in the direction of Mayor Bob Parker and saying “him, I guess”. Further pressed to provide an economic plan for the construction of the club, or modeling which would support the numbers of tourists claimed by the CCDU, a clearly tired Brownlee blurted out “look, there will be strippers, ok? Don’t you like strippers? Everyone likes strippers.”

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The privatisation of Hagley Park for Big Sport is discussed over at Against the Current. He shares many of my concerns about transferring land from the public to the private.

As the Central Riccarton Residents Association has said: ‘our Association’s objection to this application by Canterbury Cricket is to the very idea that land in Hagley Park will, if this application is successful, be appropriated permanently so that they can charge entrance fees and make a profit from the very same land that was left in perpetuity for the future generations of citizens of Christchurch.’

The Association goes on to say: ‘This application by Canterbury Cricket is fraudulent, masquerading as ‘the essential village green concept’ when the development proposed is contrary in every respect to the commonly held understanding of what a village green is: an open space within a community, undeveloped and freely available for casual use to the members of the community.’

My guess is that the environment court decision will come back in favour of the development. The council, and Bob Parker – who no longer gives a toss about what the people of Christchurch thinks, as he’s not running again – will then fast track the relevant approvals. This shouldn’t be a done deal, as the council is still required to give the land to Canterbury Cricket. However, the pressure from CWC2015 will mean that any councillor who opposes it will be held up as a “roadblock to development” or “holding back the rebuilding of Christchurch”.

The CCC voted to send the application straight to the Environment Court. That doesn’t meant that the council has actually sat down and discussed the application themselves – a discussion that would have input from the ratepayers they represent. This is a polarising issue for Christchurch, as a number of angry letters against the development in this morning’s Press would attest. Ploughing ahead with this decision would be a travesty of process.

Further to that, CWC2015 has said that Christchurch can have the games, contingent on Hagley Oval being developed. This ground doesn’t exist at the moment, and would have to be built in a very short time. Why is it contingent on that particular space? If we can build a ground on Hagley Park within 12 months which is fit for purpose, why can’t we build the same facility at Lincoln, or somewhere else in the city, in that timeframe? If CWC2015 were being even-handed and apolitical, the games would not be tied to one particular, very controversial development.

 

So the Cricket World Cup 2015 venues have been named, and Christchurch has been named as the city to host the opening match. Great, you might think. After everything we’ve been through, missing out on the Rugby World Cup in 2011 due to the earthquakes, this would be a great way to show we’ve moved on. Except … well, the ground to host this game doesn’t exist. It is a proposal mired in controversy, currently being debated in the environment court. Today’s announcement is not meant to influence the decision of the court – but you would have to be naive, or stupid, or a maddening combination of both to think that this announcement does not place a huge amount of pressure on the court to approve the development.

The decision on Hagley Oval should not be made by the ICC. It is a proposal that came from Canterbury Cricket, and was one of the surprises of the Blueprint announcement that came out a year ago today – as virtually no-one had asked for it. It requires the privatisation of public land for the good of the few. It will have serious negative impacts on the access to our hospital, which is already reasonably difficult to access. It will have to be constructed in around 18 months to be ready in time for February 2015.

More than that, you have to ask whether pouring our resources into building a stadium and getting ready for the opening of a sporting tournament is the top priority for a city in the midst of an almost glacial recovery. A year since the Blueprint came out, there is almost nothing to show for all the planning. The housing market is significantly worse than it was a year ago. The council’s debt track heading in a worrying direction – and yet a bunch of old white guys in silly blazers have decided that they will drop not only a stadium on the people of Christchurch, but pass them the bill too. This is totally outrageous.

So the fight over Hagley Oval is now being played out in the environment court. I’ve discussed the pros and cons, but mainly the cons, of this at length on the blog. I won’t stop, but I’ll try and add something different to debate. 

Another thing I have also argued against at length is the threat of council asset sales. There are many reasons against, but one of the strongest is why sell an asset that has a guaranteed return to pay for one that doesn’t even have a business plan? This same question can be asked of the Hagley Oval proposal. 

The difference being we (the people of Christchurch, as owners of Hagley Park) are being asked to GIVE part of this asset to Canterbury Cricket, so they can put up a stadium and charge entry. They are going to monetize an asset of all Christchurch people, for the benefit of the few. On top of that, they haven’t even provided a costed plan.

If I put it to council that I should be given the fourth floor of the Council Building, to run for my own commercial gain, preventing the rest of the staff from using it, I’d be laughed out of town, possibly locked up. So how is this idea even being entertained? Because it’s being done under the mask of SPORTS. Sports will make us happy. Sports will rebuild our resilience. Sports will bring in lots of money even though no-one can cite any evidence that suggests it’s true. Sports will tap into some basic, primal urge that somehow both makes us “uniquely New Zealand” whilst simultaneously hollows out our grass-roots sports organisations until they are completely modelled on the American franchise system.

Don’t get me wrong – I fucking love sports. I play football, I love the Warriors despite their inconsistent results, and I think cricket is the greatest sport of them all, test matches especially. But I am not so blind as to think that just because Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham could skittle a team at will, they are somehow qualified to make massive decisions on infrastructure. In the law-free zone of the Christchurch rebuild, there are heaps of decisions which reek of poor process. This one is the turd at the top of the pile.