Decontruction of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral approved

CERA has given its approval under Section 38 to take down parts of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch New Zealand.

The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch has capped the cost for this first stage of the restoration at $45 million.

It is seeking to fundraise raise $15 million of that total.

The proposed restoration of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament involves demolishing the front of the building and retaining the main body of the cathedral.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has given the go ahead under Section 38 of the CER Act.

This approval means that the diocese can move forward with its plans to carefully remove badly damaged parts of the church to take “all reasonable steps” to save the nave of the building.

The Bishop of Christchurch, Barry Jones, says the staging process is a positive way to move forward ensuring the best future for the Cathedral.

“I am delighted to announce today that I can move forward with recovery plans for the Cathedral and all parishes.”

“CERA’s commissioning of works gives the certainty needed to begin the major programme of work to repair, rebuild and strengthen those buildings impacted by the Christchurch earthquakes,” he said.

Lance Ryan, chairman of the Cathedral Management Board says that stage one will mostly consist of clearing the areas around the nave so a fuller investigation can be carried out on the ground underneath.

Stage one is expected to take 12 months.

Detailed engineering assessments focussed on the retention of the nave will commence later this year.

“Depending on the outcome of those studies, we very much hope that the beautiful nave can be saved.”

The deconstruction must be in accordance with a demolition plan put together by the Diocese and its representatives which follows a 12 stage ‘Test/Hold’ process.

This means each stage must be approved by CERA before work commences.

Keith Beal, Property and Development Manager for the Diocese, says this outcome means that in addition to a number of smaller schemes already underway across the Diocese, some of the larger and more complex ones will now commence.

“This is a significant decision and the Diocese is grateful to CERA for the time taken to give careful consideration to its submission and the wider impact on recovery for the Catholic communities and the city of Christchurch.

“Adoption of the 12 stage test/hold process will ensure that the conditions placed upon the Diocese will be comprehensively monitored and complied with.

“On behalf of the Bishop and the Diocesan team I think it important to acknowledge the work of Heritage New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, Opus Consulting, Sir Miles Warren and the army of archaeologists, structural engineers, legal and planning advisors who helped identify all options.”

Once the deconstruction has been completed and a full investigation undertaken of the nave and the ground conditions, the Diocese will be in a better position to consult more widely on the future of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.


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