Demolition of the Christchurch Cathedral will be put on hold while the church authorities consider an independent report saying it can be saved.
When he announced the report Jim Anderton said that Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, promised, at a meeting six weeks ago, that demolition work would be paused.
Prime Minister John Key told TV3′s Firstline programme Tuesday that although the Government thought the cathedral was a “great building”, its advice was that the building was unsafe and needed to be demolished.
He thought the focus should be on a replacement for the cathedral.
The Prime Minister said it was “always possible” the Government would consider getting involved if a report showed the building could be saved.
Speaking in TVNZ Breakfast Show Wednesday Key said it was his view that “it’d be nice in terms of rebuilding the cathedral, whether it’s part of the existing facilities or a new building, that incorporates much of the old cathedral.”
“I think it was a much loved building.”
Key said he wants to see the Anglican icon back in its rightful place.
“That site was zoned for a cathedral. It’s not called Cathedral Square for nothing.”
The Press online on Wednesday reported that the Prime Minister had confirmed that the demolition of the cathedral had been halted while the church considered the report.
“I have had a discussion with [Brownlee] about it today,” he said.
”My understanding is that there is a sort of temporary halt going on while the Anglican Church have an opportunity to talk to the interested parties.”
He believed it was important to have a cathedral in the Square, but it was not up to him what form it would take.
”Ultimately, whether it’s a new structure or a very substantial rebuild on the existing structure, well, that will be a matter for others to determine,” he said.
The Anglican church’s Cathedral Project Group has confirmed it had received the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) report which claims that the cathedral could be safely restored.
Acting Dean Lynda Patterson said: “We will review this brief report against the considerable work already undertaken in relation to safety, heritage values, financial implications and the need to reinstate the Christchurch Cathedral for the worship of God and Christian mission in the community.”
Jim Anderton, who chairs the GCBT with another former MP, Philip Burdon, says any “reasonable person” who reads the report will see there is a way the Christchurch cathedral can be preserved.
Earlier this year, Holmes Consulting Group engineers presented three options to The Cathedral Project Group, including a maximum retention option that was costed out at over $100m, but it was rejected after a safe haven could not be assured.
The GCBT have further investigated this maximum retention option with structural engineers Adam Thornton, Robert Davey and Stefano Pampanin.
Their report argues that a metal safe haven could be erected within the cathedral so that workers could safely brace and strengthen the inside of the building.
The technique would be similar to that used in underground mining, where a shaft is constructed and strengthened as progress is made. Workers could shore up the building from the protection of the safe haven.
News category: New Zealand.