Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Cost-cutting council drops $3m plan for big screen in Aotea Square

Aotea Square. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Aotea Square. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Plans for an 84sq m screen in Aotea Square have been dropped from Auckland Council's budget after concerns about a cost blowout from $1.65 million to nearly $3 million.

Rugby World Cup 2011 was the catalyst for the giant screen project when it was mooted three years ago.

At a council budget meeting yesterday, councillor Richard Northey moved to delete the project from the year's capital projects list - a move endorsed by Mayor Len Brown and passed without dissent.

Its deletion contributed $2.95 million towards $81 million of spending cuts in the draft budget.

Mr Brown said last night that there was huge support for big screens on Queens Wharf and at fan zones.

He said savings had to be made to avoid an inherited list of projects which would have meant a rates rise of 9.2 per cent.

Residents of apartments near Aotea Square were yesterday relieved to learn of the giant screen's fall from the list. Many of them had complained about excessive noise from Anniversary Day's Laneway Festival.

The council had been seeking resource consent to hold 45 screen events a year with a noise limit of 85 decibels. The District Plan allows Aotea Square to be used for six events a year which do not comply with noise limits of 65 decibels.

Meanwhile, earthquake-ravaged Christchurch may have lost its Rugby World Cup matches, but extra cash is being put up to ensure it does not lose the tournament atmosphere as well.

The Government announced yesterday it will put $650,000 into the city's new events village - complete with temporary venues and hospitality for World Cup events - to be set up in Hagley Park.

The money comes on top of more than $1.1 million in lottery grants for cup events in Christchurch.

The Hagley Park events village will include a World Cup fan zone in the style of a rugby stadium, with large screens for crowds to watch matches.

The fan zone was originally to be set up in Cathedral Square, which has been out of action since the quake.

A travelling fan zone will also be set up in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch, which bore the brunt of the damage to the city's suburbs.

"We may no longer have any Rugby World Cup games in Christchurch, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun, support the All Blacks and also be great hosts for the international visitors," said Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the village and World Cup events could be a "catalyst for healing" for the city.

"We can get over the disappointment of not having any matches in the Rugby World Cup and we can still have an event. We can still have a party.

"It's important we don't lose touch with what it was that we were, and what it is we can be."

- NZ Herald

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