Cathedral – “Great announcements and then nothing”

After five years of dereliction, legal spats and uncertainty, the Government has appointed a working party to consider options for the ChristChurch Cathedral.

Prior to this announcement Ernest Duval was reported as saying,”Christchurch is an oddball place. The heavens open and there are these great announcements and then there is nothing. It is like the cone of silence and no one will talk to you,”

Duval, a developer, is City Owners Rebuild Entity chairman.

He said developers and landowners in Cathedral Square are waiting on a cathedral decision before starting to build.

He is of the opinion that the lack of action after the Government announcement last December has eroded trust in its rebuild leadership.

“It is like the boy who cried wolf.”

Duval said the six-month wait for any news on how the Government intended to break the deadlock over the derelict cathedral was frustrating.

The Mediator

The Government last year appointed mediator Miriam Dean, QC, in an attempt to break the deadlock over the building. Anglican leaders had decided to demolish the cathedral. They planned to replace it with a modern building but those plans were caught up in legal challenges.

In December Church leaders and the Government announced that reinstating the cathedral was being considered. Campaigners expected announcement on how the deadlock would be resolved in April.

The Working Party

Now there is a further delay as the newly appointed working party has been asked to make its recommendation for the cathedral by November 28 and provide a report to the Government and church trustees by December 7.

The working party was formed last month, but announced this week by Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee.

The working party comprises of high profile Christchurch developer Alasdair Cassels, the man behind The Tannery shopping centre in Woolston, former Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority general manager Steve Wakefield, National Party regional chair Roger Bridge, former NZ Transport Agency head Geoff Dangerfield, and academic Sue McKenzie.

Developers continue to wait

Speaking before the announcement of the working party Duval said credence in statements has been diminished. “People wait for the hoardings to go up and the equipment to appear on site before they believe it. There is a loss of trust.”

“It is very frustrating, but many people have just accepted that this is the new normal for Christchurch. You get these big statements, but there is no follow through.”

Another property developer Miles Yeoman, said the his development plans were on hold. He owns the former Press building site in Cathedral Square. He says he had shelved hotel plans for now because there was not enough activity in the “barren wasteland” square.

And Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said recently announced plans for the convention centre made it more important to resolve the cathedral deadlock.


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