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Manuka Oval Media Centre call-in not cricket, say community groups

Ian Bushnell 23 September 2019 58
Draft plan for a new media centre at Manuka Oval.

An artist’s impression of Manuka Oval with the planned the Media Centre.

Community groups are alarmed at the second use of call-in powers to approve a major development at Manuka Oval, this time for the $11.6 million Media Centre at the southern end of the ground.

Minister for Planning Mick Gentleman used his call-in powers to approve the four-level, 19 metre tall development before Christmas so that it could be ready for Manuka Oval to host Canberra’s first Test cricket match, against Sri Lanka in January 2019.

“It is important for work to start soon to ensure it is complete in time for the Test match next summer – and with minimal disruption to the upcoming AFL season. Given the approval by the National Capital Authority, the extensive consideration of the heritage aspects of Manuka Oval and the lengthy consultation with the community, I was satisfied that the project should proceed,” Mr Gentleman said.

Community groups had questioned the Media Centre in its present form, which the Government said was designed to meet International Cricket Council specifications, mainly because of its size, cost and impact on the heritage nature of the area.

Having seen off the GWS Giants unsolicited development proposal in 2016 year, they are now concerned that the Media Centre will set another precedent for future development around the Oval.

A spokesperson for the Minister said that the site had been fenced off in December and works would start in late January/early February, including minor demolition works, site services and footings. Construction should be complete by October 2018.

In September last year, the Government awarded the contract to Kane Constructions, which has been working with architects, Populous, to finalise the design.

Draft plan for a new media centre at Manuka Oval.

A street view of the planned Manuka Oval Media Centre.

The Minister said in a statement in December that “particular care was taken with assessing this proposal to promote high quality, creative design, while at the same time safeguarding the important heritage and iconic values that Manuka Oval holds for the Territory”.

The spokesperson said the Minister imposed a number of conditions on the project approval including demonstrating compliance with relevant aspects of the National Capital Authority’s Development Control Plan for the precinct; showing that the Tree Management Plan meets NCA and ACT Heritage requirements; endorsement of the ACT Government Architect; and providing a revised Landscape Plan, endorsed by the NCA, ACT Heritage unit and the Tree Protection unit.

“Delivering the Manuka Media Centre is core to our commitment to developing Manuka Oval as a modern international sporting ground. The addition of the media centre will open up all kinds of opportunities for Manuka Oval to play host to more top-level fixtures for the community to enjoy while further strengthening Canberra’s event economy,” the spokesperson said.

ICC media and broadcast requirements include print press rooms with 75 seated desk positions, press conference facilities, two TV broadcast studios, and six radio boxes. The Media Centre will be 40 metres long and have a total floor space of 2804 sqm.

The centre will also be used to cover Canberra’s four AFL matches per season, with facilities available for other events on non-match days.

“Our intention is that it will also be made available to local residents’ groups for meetings and other functions,” the spokesperson said.

The Government also called in Manuka Oval’s lighting project, and Inner South Canberra Community Council chair Marea Fatseas is concerned what this may mean for the future of the Oval and its surrounds.

“Will this use of call-in powers now become the default approach for any future development proposals for Manuka Oval?” she said.

Kingston and Barton Residents Group president Rebecca Scouller said the consultation process was flawed and also criticised the use of the call-in powers.

“As much as the Government promised to be more open and transparent after the election and embrace community thoughts, it feels like when call-in powers are used all the time it doesn’t matter what we say or suggest, that it won’t be taken into account,” she said.

“The use of ‘call in’ powers erodes public faith in the integrity of planning regulation and public consultation. Fears that media facilities at the Oval might not be ready in time is not a substantial reason to justify overturning due process.”

She fears it could be the start of future development around the Oval, saying the community would like to see the heritage aspect of the Oval and the buildings on that precinct preserved and not overshadowed and built out.

“At 19 metres this is close to an average six-storey development and will be very prominent in the skyline of Manuka and surrounding suburbs,” she said.

She said the area’s growing population needed a place to play and relax, and people wanted the area activated for recreational use such as installing exercise stations and expanding the pool.
“We’re not anti-use of the Oval, we’re anti-poor decision making around the Oval,” she said.

“The key thing is how you manage the boutique aspect of the oval, one of the big attractions is that vibe. We’re not saying it doesn’t need improvements, maintenance or updating but I think there is a fine line between being boutique and unique and the MCG.”

She said Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s comparison to the Adelaide Oval was misplaced.

“It’s not like Adelaide Oval, which doesn’t have residential on its doorstep, or many of the other ovals,” she said.

Draft plan for a new media centre at Manuka Oval.

Both questioned the ‘build it and they will come’ attitude of the Government, and the scale and value of the centre, which is on a par with Lord’s in London.

“ACT ratepayers, who have experienced massive rate increases, may well wonder whether they will get value for money for the expenditure of $11.6 million on a Media Centre that seems to be of similar scale to the Media Centre at the pre-eminent Lord’s Cricket Ground in the UK, which accommodates more games and 28,000 spectators, nearly double that of Manuka Oval,” Ms Fatseas said.
Ms Scouller echoed her remarks. “An outdoor entertainment area to host 96 people and catering for more print journalists than the media centre at Lord’s suggest that this development is more geared to a function centre than a media centre designed to meet ICC guidelines,” she said.
“AFL and Big Bash will never need a media centre of this capacity and we are not guaranteed another Test match so this is an expensive investment for potentially a one-off event”.
 She said the ACT Government should be striving for a state-of-the-art media centre but the current design did not seem in line with planning for a future city and future technologies and the media centre may become quickly redundant.
Ms Fatseas also believes that as public land, the Oval requires a Land Management Plan that has to be approved by the Legislative Assembly.
The Minister’s spokesperson confirmed that Manuka Oval did not have a public land management plan but said this did not prevent the development from proceeding.
“However, the Minister’s decision does require the Tree Management and Replacement Master Plan as approved by the NCA and the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, to be implemented,” he said.

Do you think the Media Centre is over the top? Will it be a white elephant? Will it make Manuka Oval a genuine Test venue? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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58 Responses to Manuka Oval Media Centre call-in not cricket, say community groups
Babs Mabbs Babs Mabbs 10:58 pm 12 Jan 18

It’s amazing how much money goes into sport.

Breet James Breet James 10:05 pm 12 Jan 18

Increase the capacity of the stadium so we can get an AFL and big bash team.

    Brad McDonell Brad McDonell 7:31 am 13 Jan 18

    You’d need to increase the capacity of the town not the stadium mate. Bruce holds like 30,000 but only 9,000 show up to the footy.

    Breet James Breet James 4:19 pm 13 Jan 18

    If you build it, they will come...

    Brad McDonell Brad McDonell 5:14 pm 13 Jan 18

    Breet James they don’t come man, that’s the point 🤣

    Breet James Breet James 6:59 pm 13 Jan 18

    Kevin Costner believed...

    Brad McDonell Brad McDonell 8:31 pm 13 Jan 18

    Kevin Costner would draw the crowds - maybe can Victor the Viking and put Costner on the sidelines at Raiders games?

Andrew Moore Andrew Moore 9:18 pm 12 Jan 18

It's off centre and ugly AF. Just develop the entire ground like proposed in 2016.

Holden Miller Holden Miller 3:09 pm 12 Jan 18

Can we please have a covered grandstand built at Epic for both sides of the Summernats driving pad? Motorsport is a sport too :)

Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:51 pm 12 Jan 18

This is outrageous – another way to waste millions on this government’s pet projects. Very few Canberrans per-capita support high level cricket; even less follow baseball yet the same government is handing the local Cavalry professional team $5 million for a new pitch and “members bar”.

I would like to see the opposition (do we have one?) launch an enquiry into just how much is being spent on sport in the Territory, not only directly but through the government’s ratepayer funded associates like UC and CBR.

    aleayr aleayr 12:56 pm 12 Jan 18

    I’d like to know where you get your assertion that very few Canberrans per-capita support high level cricket?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:12 pm 12 Jan 18

    Well, how many turn up and how many don’t?

    aleayr aleayr 8:07 pm 14 Jan 18

    Right, now I know you’re trolling with that ridiculously simplistic assertion. I was hoping you’d actually have some real numbers, something that would provide some interesting discussion about the merits. It’s almost always sold out when matches come. You seem to dislike cricket, which is fine, not everyone loves it, but please contribute to the debate constructively.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:53 pm 19 Jan 18

    I neither love or dislike cricket. Excuse me for being simplistic again but where is the business case for the government’s largess and please answer my earlier question namely why is a media centre needed in the first place?

Betty Evans Betty Evans 11:39 am 12 Jan 18

Totally agree!

Andrea Kerr Andrea Kerr 11:25 pm 11 Jan 18

Stop whining the community groups destroyed the unsolicited proposal from the giants but lost out on this one. The entire area needs proper development consideration and it would have been smarter working with the giants but they spoiled that option themselves. You reap what you sow.

Jim Chambo Jim Chambo 10:20 pm 11 Jan 18

Good news. I think this will attract more cricket games.

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 10:00 pm 11 Jan 18

Love call- in powers. Proper cost-benefit analysis and community consultation? Nahhh!

And the Government wonders why people like me are cynical about development in the ACT.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 8:20 am 12 Jan 18

    It is a requirement for the Test Match next year. They would have built it regardless of any CBAs. Also CBAs are generally rubbish as they can be tweaked to value things however they want. eg. how do we properly value environmental impact, a cost on carbon would help, or social impact and tourism profits? All best guesses. If you want it built you over estimate and if you don't you under estimate.

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:36 am 12 Jan 18

    If you were building a house would you just start building it without some idea of how much it was going to cost you?

    The problem with CBAs and most public work projects is that there is never a decent post-implementation review. The lessons learnt are never documented and the next project usually has different personnel involved so it basically starts from scratch and goes through the same process and same mistakes. CBAs shouldn’t be rubbish.

    As to your first sentence (it would have been built regardless of any CBA). That’s the issue. The ACT Government has repeatedly used call-in powers to allow development regardless of community concerns. Community consultation is not “We’ll let you have your say and then go ahead and do what we want.” It is supposed to be “We’ll listen to your concerns and address them. If we don’t decide to change our decision we’ll explain why.”

    Until the Government starts to do that, curmudgeons like me will continue to criticise the current development process.

    Michael Holdom Michael Holdom 10:01 am 12 Jan 18

    Gabriel, i agree. I think half the problem is around 'accountability'. Its assumed that the next person in the office will have to deal with any negative outcomes of the project and there's just papering over the cracks to get it done. As you say, there does not appear to be effective post-implementation reviews, or continuous improvements in the processes. The same could be said of the 'inspectors' that sign off on buildings, given some of the stories coming out of the apartment living sector of new buildings that have significant issues only 12 months out from completion (but i digress).

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 9:56 pm 11 Jan 18

Should all be in Philip. Manuka simply doesn't have the necessary infrastructure and access.

Moss Bunney Moss Bunney 9:41 pm 11 Jan 18

This can only be a good thing. Canberra wants and needs national and international sporting events. The better the facilities, the more chance of securing these events.

Julia Ross Julia Ross 9:31 pm 11 Jan 18

These bloody call in powers are totally corrupt. Money has changed hands methinks.

John Armour John Armour 9:25 pm 11 Jan 18

The price we pay for a developing city. Whilst I understand local residents concerns, Canberra will never again be the sleepy hollow it was in the 80s and 90s. Call it in.

Bill Arnold Bill Arnold 8:49 pm 11 Jan 18

Hope there is a tram line in it.

Brendan Haverfield Brendan Haverfield 8:49 pm 11 Jan 18

This looks terrific it really compliments the light Towers. I think this will really help promote 20/20 games as well as test matches.

Well Done and bring it on.

Jim Roy Jim Roy 8:48 pm 11 Jan 18

Top job.

Alen Marin Alen Marin 8:46 pm 11 Jan 18

How many million is this one going to cost? ... corrupt ACT Government again allocating funds to a minority sport ......why not pump the money into the derelict grass fields in the area so kids can play afl/rugby/soccer properly

    Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 9:01 pm 11 Jan 18

    Article says 11.6 million

    Alen Marin Alen Marin 9:03 pm 11 Jan 18

    Patrick J Pentony wow !!! But how much is it actually going to cost ? 😊😊

    Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 9:03 pm 11 Jan 18

    Alen Marin good question probably 20mil

    Alen Marin Alen Marin 9:06 pm 11 Jan 18

    Must be a pretty good media box ...... meanwhile school and club ovals have no grass or lighting, so the kids/community can enjoy

    Jeff Kerr Jeff Kerr 11:31 pm 11 Jan 18

    Alen Marin Boom Alen -Key AFL NSW/ACT participation statistics for 2017:

    8.2% growth in Club football in NSW/ACT – the highest growth rate in the country.

    78% growth in Female Club football participation.

    30.4% growth in AFL 9's participation.

    7.3% overall participation growth to 254,812 participants (vs. 237,549 in 2016), might role out the cricket growth rate as well

    Alen Marin Alen Marin 7:36 am 12 Jan 18

    Jeff Kerr Great stats ....Soccer in Canberra has had an average of about 10% growth year on year for the last 10 years backed by being the most participated sport in the ACT yet we get next to NOTHING from ACT Gov. Our facilities are derelict and grounds are cow paddocks ......

    Michael Holdom Michael Holdom 8:04 am 12 Jan 18

    Has anyone stopped to think that IF we want to keep attracting games that will be covered by the Media, Manuka needs this addition, rather than them sitting in a demountable sitting on scaffolding? If AFL / Cricket decide that the services are not appropriate for their media representatives then they will simply move games elsewhere. Now using 'round' numbers if its gonna cost $20 mil and there are 350,000 Canberrans, its cost you $57 per person to build. I'm expecting it will cost more than that to travel to GWS or SCG to watch a game if Manuka gets dropped as a venue because of lack of services...... just saying

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 8:12 am 12 Jan 18

    More hysteria. No grass or lighting..... really. Geez i remember being president of a club when the drought was on. We had to share ovals with other sports just to get by. The gov also basically rents ovals out for free for junior sport. So basically even though junior sport doesn't cover the cost of facilities and maintenance, you want even more? I'm all for making junior sport affordable and cheap. But people here lose perspective and whinge so much. At least the media centre will bring more games of cricket and generate more income that might then be spent towards community facilities. Hopefully we get a BigBash team as well which will generate more in the economy. Soccer and AFL meanwhile sit there with their hands out expecting the government to pay them to bring games here. By all means push for improvements, but don't be a whinger who doesn't realise how good we have it in Canberra. Also there are a lot of sports, so trying to convince everyone soccer or AFL is more important, needs to get over themselves.

    Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 12:23 pm 12 Jan 18

    Michael Holdom have you thought that it should be the TV stations, wanting that type of luxury for their commentators, who should reach down into their deep commercial pockets and contribute or pay for it themselves. Most Canberrans don’t watch cricket or football, have no interest in sporting ground upgrades, but would prefer to have their local sadly equipped and spider infested playgrounds upgraded with modern equipment rather than than splintered or broken offerings.....

    My kids grew up with one old swing in an overgrown cockroach and wood beetle infested patch, that was 35 yrs ago, and it’s still the same today.

    Mick Gentleman should divert money towards our future - the kids of today, and not well paid sporting commentators exclusive comfort.

    Michael Holdom Michael Holdom 3:41 pm 12 Jan 18

    Annie Wyer i'm sorry, as a local who has nothing but played sport for past 30-odd, and love watching cricket & football, i don't agree with the commentary that most Canberrans 'don't watch'. The number of players & families throughout the local clubs i've played for all love the sport whether it be LIVE or on TV. Sell outs at all the latest international cricket matches & strong patronage to PM XIs (which was ironically greater attended when it was a 50ov, than the T20) shows that the local community heavily support cricket in the ACT. With a young family of my own i also recognise that local playgrounds can always do with better facilities, but unfortunately the continuous vandalism of upgrades can wear out even the most ardent community supporter. Again as a local cricket of 30-odd years, i've lost count of the number of newly laid pitches, or batting net improvements, that have ended up with burn marks from locals setting off fireworks, skidding on with push (or motor) bikes, and other blatant destruction, just for sake of it. With all that said, i recognize that i am bias as i love my sport and would watch whether LIVE or on TV. :)

    Tristan Richter Tristan Richter 11:27 pm 12 Jan 18

    Alen Marin but big games can be played at Bruce Stadium. AFL and Cricket are limited to a ground equivalent to being in Lismore or Toowoomba.

    Ben Pipe Ben Pipe 11:32 am 13 Jan 18

    I totally agree Michael Holdom . Unfortunately these types of decisions aren't going to please everyone no matter how you justify it. But as a fellow sport lover I welcome the move. You need 1st class facilities to attract 1st class sporting fixtures.

Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 8:33 pm 11 Jan 18

That stinks of a reach around for sure #corruptfatcat

Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 8:21 pm 11 Jan 18

It's undemocratic and it's bad planning considering the area

beardedclam beardedclam 3:50 pm 11 Jan 18

Do these residents have the power to stop the capital of Australia growing. There are a lot more people that like cricket and want to see Canberra grow than residents opposed to the idea of change in their suburb.
Sometimes, you just get told what to do or what is happening, you may not like it, but a lot of other people do.

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