Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Cricket gets hit for high-rise

Cricket may move from Eden Park to Western Springs. Photo  / Kenny Rodger
Cricket may move from Eden Park to Western Springs. Photo / Kenny Rodger

The No 2 ground and cricket pitch at Eden Park will be replaced with residential and commercial buildings of up to nine storeys, according to documents obtained by the Weekend Herald.

The Eden Park Trust Board, weighed down with about $50 million of debt and struggling to pay for future repairs and capital works, is eyeing the No 2 ground as a financial saviour.

The idea is to follow the likes of the home of rugby at Twickenham in London, which have hotels and other operations within their grounds to generate extra income.

The Eden Park board has withheld the latest development plans while the Auckland Council stitches together a stadium strategy.

Part of the strategy involves moving domestic and test cricket to Western Springs, which would free up the No 2 ground for development.

Local residents and the public have been kept in the dark about the plans for the No 2 ground until after the council passed the stadium strategy at Thursday's budget meeting.

At the meeting, Mayor Len Brown voted against a motion from Albert-Eden-Roskill councillor Cathy Casey to delay the strategy until the trust board plans were made public.

When the plans are made public later this month, they will show buildings of up to five storeys on Sandringham Rd, rising to a maximum of nine storeys against the west stand.

On the Walters Rd side of the No 2 ground, buildings will be no higher than four storeys, and a 40m buffer has been left between buildings and Reimers Rd. The buffer will be used to bus fans to and from the ground.

Site coverage varies from 35 per cent of the four-storey limit fronting Sandringham Rd to 75 per cent for the nine-storey limit against the West Stand.

The plans are outlined in a submission to Auckland Council's draft Unitary Plan, a 30-year blueprint for the Super City. The submission is also understood to call for doubling the number of night games, holding concerts at Eden Park, and extending night-time hours to attract games such as State of Origin rugby league.

The submission follows an earlier proposal for a range of uses on the No 2 ground, including residential, accommodation, offices, takeaway foods and retail, which was rejected by the council. Said Dr Casey: "If Eden Park develop the No 2 ground, it will have incredible consequences for both residents and business."

Eden Park Residents' Association president Mark Donnelly said the ground was already at the maximum level of activities and impacts that the local area could be expected to bear.

He called on the council to strongly support the status quo for the No 2 ground as open space.

Auckland Cricket chief executive Mark Cameron said the sport was happy to stay at Eden Park, but was not closing the door on opportunities that could benefit cricket.

He said Auckland Cricket was "uncomfortable" about the No 2 ground being developed for commercial purposes.

Auckland Cricket has exclusive rights to use the No 2 ground from October 1 until April 15.

It and Auckland Rugby are the two beneficiaries of the trust.

- NZ Herald

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