Sport codes under pressure for space

By Lawrence Gullery

A three-way split could be made to accommodate a trio of sports looking to expand their codes on to 3.5ha of reserve land in Havelock North due to be developed in 2015.

Hastings District Council has set aside $417,000 in its long-term plan to develop Romanes Drive, which so far has a BMX track. The balance of land is grazed.

Representatives from the Havelock North Wanderers Football Club and the Hastings Croquet Club have put their hands up to be included in future development of the reserve.

Their chance to put their bids forward to the council came when it discussed the future of the reserve as part of its long-term plan hearing on Wednesday.

Wanderers football club at Guthrie Park borders the reserve and club president Mike Purchas said it would be an ideal area to expand into.

The club had 600 members, comprising 35 junior and seven seniors teams, and had outgrown its Guthrie Park site.

"Over the past 20 years the population of Havelock North has grown but the land available for sports has decreased," Mr Purchas said.

"We have now grown to be the biggest football club in Hawke's Bay and still operating from the same site."

Councillors asked how many new pitches and facilities the club would need and whether it would be happy sharing the site with the BMX track.

"I think what we need most of all is just a field for the kids to kick the ball around. The other things will come later," Mr Purchas said.

"There are five different pitch sizes depending what age group you're talking about ... we would ask for all of the land but whatever is possible, within reason, we would support that."

Geoff Gibson is vice president of the Hastings Croquet Club which has been operating for 86 years. It is based at the Kia Toa bowls club in Hastings but is also eyeing a spot at Romanes Drive.

The club would like to develop 10 greens and a clubhouse, which would take up about a third of the 3.5ha reserve.

Mr Gibson said the club had been approached by the sport's national body to host national and international events in the future and a move to the reserve would allow this to happen.

"We are tucked away in our current spot but want to come out in the open, to show the range of people playing our sport, in a central location."

The club had wanted to move into a reserve at Sylvan Rd but the council took so long to decide what it wanted to do with the empty site and so club opted for Romanes Drive.

Councillors also wanted to know why the club could not move to the regional sports park on the outskirts of Hastings.

Mayor Lawrence Yule, speaking as chairman of the sports park trust, said the park was "running out of space".

"Now speaking as mayor, I think we as a council have underestimated the need to build more parks.

"Despite everything, despite the recession, people are looking for ways to improve their lifestyles and are turning to sport and similar activities, and we are struggling to keep up."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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