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Ashburton showgrounds revamp makes progress

Ashburton showgrounds revamp makes progress
Ashburton A&P Assocation board chairperson Richard Lemon (left) and ground manager Tim Lovett unveiled plans for the showground's redevelopment in April 2023. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

Groundworks for a major redevelopment of Ashburton's Showgrounds could get underway later this year.

It is almost a year since the Ashburton A&P Association unveiled grand plans for a redevelopment.

Board chairperson and past president Richard Lemon said their focus was on sourcing funding, getting updated quotes and ensuring the user groups are on board with the plans.

“We are just working through it all, trying to cross the T’s and dotting the I’s.

“We are talking to the groups to make sure they are onside as we don’t want to develop anything that’s not usable.”

There is no set timeline for the completion of the project.

"We are just trying to work through it all as fast as possible”.

There is an overall masterplan for the redevelopment, which will be completed in stages as funding allowed, Lemon said.

“We’ll do things as we can afford to do them.

“It’s not going to be a total development done in 12 months.”

Stage 1 will redevelop three new specialised equestrian rings on the western side of the grounds, which they are hoping to start this year, he said.

“We might get the rings done this year but it might be another 12 months before we start on buildings or extra toilets.

“The main thing is to get the groundworks done first because then they can be used for the show and equestrian events.”

Stage 1 had initially been estimated to cost around $600,000 to develop the rings and associated buildings.

The Ashburton District Council offered a loan, but servicing the debt was outside their scope, Lemon said.

“We need to do it with sponsors and grants."

Meanwhile, the council is set to consult on a 30-year masterplan for the EA Networks Centre and surrounding land.

Like the showgrounds, it is a masterplan for staged development as funding allows.

Part of that plan involves greenfields development, and a note on the draft states that the community sports field area is subject to change taking into account the A&P Showground project.

By Jonathan Leask