Yarrow Stadium plans face fresh complaint

Plans to develop New Zealand’s Yarrow Stadium have been called into question by two local sports groups who have filed a formal complaint over the process used to determine how the venue should be developed.

Last month, the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), which operates the earthquake-damaged stadium, voted in favour of a redevelopment project for the venue. The project had previously been approved by Taranaki Regional Council (TRC), whose Taranaki Stadium Trust (TST) owns the stadium.

A NZ$55m (£29.1m/€32.5m/$36.7m) repair plan had been recommended for the stadium in February but the plans approved last month are set to cost NZ$50m.

The plans have previously faced strong opposition and eight options for the stadium had been on the table, ranging from a basic NZ$6m upgrade through to a full demolition of the stands and construction of a new covered stadium that would have cost NZ$271m.

Radio New Zealand now reports that Sport Taranaki and the Taranaki Sports Collective have filed a complaint with the Auditor-General over the consultation process used to decide on the plans.

According to the report, the groups are claiming the process was unfair as the NZ$55m repair and the NZ$6m demolition were the only options offered. A basic repair job worth NZ$33m would have been preferred by the public, the groups state.

Sport Taranaki chairman Gordon Brown said: “That was further compounded by the TRC’s online submission form not allowing anyone to comment unless they ticked one of the boxes. We complained about that and still they refused to change anything, until two working days before submissions closed.

“To be fair to everyone, they need to start the process again and allow people to let their feelings be known right from the start. The way they did it was undemocratic and if the TRC has any conscience, they should let the people have their say.”

In a statement reported by Stuff.co.nz, Mike Nield, director of corporate services for TRC, said: “We will not comment on any investigation that may result. We will cooperate fully with the work of the office of the Auditor-General.”

The stadium, which is primarily used to host rugby matches, used to have a capacity of 25,000 but this was drastically reduced after it was deemed an earthquake risk last year. The venue suffered damage from the Kaikōura earthquake in November 2016.

Image: TRFU