Volley fired at council's plan to turn off the lights by 6pm Sundays and public holidays

Club tennis players will have to down rackets at 6pm if a little-known clause in Auckland Council's draft Unitary Plan makes it through to the final document.

The "strange and unexplained" hours have been discovered by the Pompallier Lawn Tennis Club in St Marys Bay.

Under the draft plan, floodlights adjoining residential areas must be turned off at 6pm on Sundays and public holidays. This is a change to the existing time of 10pm, seven days a week.

Sports clubs will be able to keep the lights on until 10pm from Monday to Saturday, excluding public holidays.


Pompallier Tennis Club vice-president Josie McNaught said the new hours would prevent members playing in cooler and safer conditions, and affect the club championships.

Given the intensification so passionately sought by the plan, and rising obesity levels, it was bizarre that the council wanted to reduce use of sports grounds, she said.

Concerns have also been raised about open space provisions, allowing the council to place buildings and structures in parks, including offices, visitor accommodation, retails, restaurants, halls, camping grounds and marae complexes.

In a letter to the Herald yesterday, M. Carol Scott, of Birkenhead, said the peace and relaxation of parks and reserves will be lost forever under the proposals.

Retired Auckland City Council senior planner Allan Kirk said the open space provisions spelled disaster for the city, particularly for the inner city suburbs which were grossly short of parks.

The council was seeking greater intensification on the one hand but was not compensating with more open space on the other, he said.

Auckland Sport chief executive Sarah Sandley said the mooted changes to lighting rules could make it more difficult for Aucklanders to be active, but supported the open space proposals to maximise the use of buildings and facilities as population growth led to increased demand on sport and recreation services and facilities.

Auckland Council's regional planning manager, Penny Pirrit, said the open plan provisions reflected what was in the district plans and the proposals were designed to create a single set of rules. Structures could not be built as of right and required a resource consent.

Small scale structures, such as the cafe at Long Bay, were appropriate.

Ms Pirrit said sports clubs should make submissions on issues such as the operating hours for floodlights.

Submissions on the plan close at 5pm on February 28. An independent panel, headed by Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick, is not expected to start hearing submissions until October/November at the earliest.