More church buildings for demolition – locals saddened


In what is becoming a familiar occurrence, the demolition of church-owned buildings is being opposed by people concerned at the loss of a “well-loved landmark” in their community.

The demolition of two residential buildings in Parnell, Auckland, owned by the Anglican church has been described as “sinful”.

And in Dunedin, an eleventh-hour effort is being made to prevent the demolition of Highgate Presbyterian Church in Maori Hill.

In both cases, the financial constraints are behind the decision to demolish.

The churches have followed all the proper procedures. None of these building has a Heritage New Zealand listing.

Cathedral Dean Anne Mills said they needed the land next to Holy Trinity Cathedral on which the demolished building stood, to lease for townhouses so it can afford annual upkeep on its other properties.

Annual cathedral, grounds and associated building maintenance was $300,000-plus annually. That figure was predicted to rise.

The church in Maori Hill is set to be demolished because the Presbyterian Church is no longer able to maintain the building which it says requires expensive work to earthquake-proof.

The church has agreed to put the demolition on hold until the end of this month so the Dunedin City Council has time to find alternative solutions.

Church minister Rev. Geoffrey Skilton said a meeting was scheduled for May 25 at which the congregation would be informed about the church’s discussions with the council.

A decision would also be made on whether to continue those discussions or go ahead with the demolition, Mr Skilton said.

“We understand that some in the community were disappointed by the decision to demolish the building, and we have heard these voices.”

The decision to demolish was made after years of discussions within the congregation about what was best for the church now and in the future, he said.


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