The Wellington City Council had a lot to say yesterday about the wellbeing of cricketers. Its representative at the Basin flyover board of inquiry said the council’s support of the flyover was conditional on ensuring that cricketers’ interests were protected.
According to this morning’s report in the DomPost, the council’s lawyer was much less concerned about the welfare of the people of Mt Victoria, whose community will be changed forever if a concrete flyover is built in their quiet neighbourhood.
The council offered its support to the $90 million project yesterday at a board of inquiry hearing – but made it very clear that its support came with conditions. Top of its list of demands was that the New Zealand Transport Agency build the biggest pavilion it could in order to completely block the flyover from view inside the Basin. Otherwise the flyover could “severely damage” the historic venue’s test status, council lawyer Kerry Anderson said. “This would result in irreparable damage to the historical and cultural heritage of the Basin Reserve and potentially the death of test match cricket.”
Ms Anderson, who also represents the Basin Reserve Trust, said the main concern was that traffic on the flyover would distract batsmen and fielders and ruin the “ambience and boutique atmosphere” of the ground, with the trust concerned the agency took a narrow view when assessing the flyover’s impact on the Basin. “It focused solely on the potential distraction to a batsman at the southern end of the wicket,” Ms Anderson said. “It failed to properly appreciate a batsman’s actual line of sight and visual distraction of other players, namely fielders.”
The city council should have been speaking out about how the flyover and its overhead traffic will ruin the ambience and atmosphere of the entire neighbourhood around the Basin. And it’s unforgiveable for the council to ignore the fact that new pavilion will block the unique north-south viewshaft from Kent and Cambridge Terraces.
The daily transcript of the hearing confirms that the council’s representative spent most of her time talking about matters affecting the Basin Reserve and the cricketers. She spent a minimal amount of time on other matters, and these didn’t sound in any way like deal-breakers:
Ms Anderson said the council … wanted to see more work done to soften the visual impact of the flyover from Ellice St. More pedestrian crossings were also needed, as was a rethink of the Adelaide Rd intersection, which could force motorists entering Rugby St into a dangerous weaving situation.
The most interesting comment reported from yesterday’s hearing comes from the retired judge who is chairing the board of inquiry:
Board of inquiry head Judge Gordon Whiting said there did not appear to be any disagreement over whether the transport agency had done all it could to make the flyover more attractive. “The disagreement is that it doesn’t work – the idea that you can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.”
That’s an idea which deserves widespread acceptance.
First day of hearing: Four men in suits
Daily transcripts of the hearing: on the EPA website.