An advocate for the preservation of Christchurch's Hagley Park says the city council is disguising a substantial upgrade of Hagley cricket oval as general maintenance.
The $1.4 million development of a new cricket wicket and refurbished outfield begins on Monday.
The council says the development fits within its mandate to manage and enhance public outdoor recreation assets.
However, a spokesperson for the Save Hagley Park group, Martin Meehan, believes the work is being brought in under the radar in order to have the park ready as a venue for Cricket World Cup matches in 2015.
Mr Meehan believes the development sets a major precedent for further commercialisation of the park and says the group will be staging a protest against the council's decision.
Cricket World Cup organisers need to know by the end of the month whether the oval will be up to standard for the event.