Cathedral demolition: Accept the decision and move on

People fighting to preserve heritage buildings are questioning the decision announced by the  Bishop of Christchurch to demolish the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.

But Christchurch Regeneration Minister, Megan Woods says the city needs to accept the church’s decision and move on.

Woods said she had many fond memories of the cathedral having gone to school next to it, but the decision to demolish was one for the church to make.

“We do need to move on, as sad as it is, a decision has been made.

The last thing the people of Christchurch need to see is another building getting bogged down in legal wrangling.”

In a pastoral letter read out in all parishes on Sunday the catholic bishop of Christchurch, Paul Martin announced decision demolish the cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

The decision was necessary because the cathedral could not pass a 12-point test set out in the notice that was issued in 2015 by CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority).

A fight brewing

Despite Wood’s advice, the situation is fast becoming a re-play of the prolonged disagreement over the future of Christchurch’s Anglican Cathedral.

Some see the building as an architectural gem. They want to preserve it

Others want a functional and functioning place of worship.

Restore the Cathedral

Former cabinet minister Peter Dunne took to Twitter saying:

“A Canadian Anglican Bishop tried to tear down Christchurch’s Anglican cathedral and failed. Now an outsider Catholic Bishop wants to do likewise to his cathedral. Will this be a similar battle & outcome?”

Heritage advocate Anna Crighton said there was outrage in the community.

She was ready to fight for the building’s survival.

“Rest assured it will not go unchallenged,” she said.

When asked where the money would come from for a challenge, Crighton said: “It’s always easy to find money for a good cause”.

Demolish and build elsewhere

Martin says the diocese has spent millions of dollars investigating the site and the building.

It has looked at more than 20 different possibilities:

“But ultimately we were unable to find a functional and financial solution.”

Section 38 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act allowed for the deconstruction of the Cathedral, in the quest to save the nave and other parts.

Section 38  also gave the Diocese the power to demolish the whole building if it could not pass the 12-point test outlined in the application.

One option was to save the nave but with a much reduced new sanctuary and no towers at the front.

To do this would cost $91m.

Martin says the resulting building would not be fit for purpose.

The second option, a complete restoration, would cost $149m.

There is  $30 million set aside for the cathedral from the diocese’s insurance payout is available to go towards fixing other damaged buildings throughout the diocese.


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