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Community Board hits Old Boys Collegians for six

Mitchell Redman
Elmwood Park Cricket Nets
These are the nets at Elmwood Park - shared between 600 players of the South Island's largest cricket club. Mitch Redman

The Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board has voted against letting the Old Boys Collegians cricket club build new cricket nets at Elmwood Park.

The plan was to replace the current nets, as the club believed they were sub-standard, unsafe, and outdated.

The new nets were to be enclosed, positioned along the footpath to stop balls being hit into the open field, and include space for a bowlers run-up.

However, nearby residents of Elmwood Park were upset with the impact the nets would have on the landscape of the park, and the lack of consultation from the city council about the project.

David Lynch, who lives near the park, said the decision was a "victory" for neighbours.

Lynch said people living in the area were "unaware" of the scale of the proposal, and the club should look at other alternatives which would not have such an effect on the environment.

Elmwood Park Plans
'B' was the preferred position of the proposed cricket nets - plans which have been put on halt. Christchurch City Council

The proposal included four adjacent artificial pitches, measuring 37m long, 14m wide and 3.5m in height.

Councillor James Gough put the question to fellow board members "is this a cricket club where residents fit in, or a residential area where their plans have to work for residents?". 

He believed it was the latter.

Committee member of the Old Boys Collegian club Steve Wakefield said "the decision making of the community board has been adversely impacted by a small number of local neighbours - the typical nimby trip crowd, which doesn't recognise the hundreds of families who collectively use the park".

Wakefield was adamant that health and safety should have taken precedence over aesthetics, and despite the setback, they'll look towards the next step to improve the safety of park users.

David Wakefield, captain of the senior team, has played for the club since he could hold a bat, and said the decision against nets was a massive blow to the cricket community. 

ELMWOOD PARK AREA
The community board believes the cricket nets proposed would have significantly obstructed this view of Elmwood Park. Mitch Redman

Only three members voted in favour of the changes, including chairperson Sam MacDonald, who shared his frustration that after such a lengthy process there would still be no decision made.

MacDonald also raised concern surrounding a large sum of funding acquired by the club, which would be put in jeopardy because of the decision. 

City council staff will now carry out further consultation with Old Boys Collegians and the community regarding the license. The cricket club will reconsider their options, with the possibility of having to scale down the plans.