The Diocese of Christchurch has agreed to look at reinstating the earthquake-damaged ChristChurch Cathedral.
Church leaders and the Government announced today that a report by consultant Miriam Dean QC had found the building could be either reconstructed as "indistinguishable" from the pre-quake cathedral or replaced.
The report stops short of endorsing either option but, crucially, brings to the negotiating table parties that have been at loggerheads over the cathedral's fate for more than three years.
The Church Property Trust (CPT), which owns the cathedral, will now consider the cost and feasibility of reinstatement as well as replacement with a new contemporary building.
In a statement today, the Diocese and the Church Property Trustees (CPT) thanked the Government, Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee, and the Government-appointed consultant for the report on the cathedral's future.
“Miriam Dean QC and her team did an excellent job of assessing the positions of the parties involved and finding points of agreement. We are grateful for her hard work,” said the Rt Rev Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch.
The engineers and quantity surveyors involved were able to reach a large measure of high-level agreement on the engineering options and indicative costs of reinstating ChristChurch Cathedral, she said.
"The CPT are delighted to note that the report concurred with their engineers and quantity surveyors, and confirmed the cost of reinstatement at $105 million. It also confirms that it is a complex and risky project."
The diocesan statement noted that according to the report, reinstatement would require repair, restoration, and reconstruction. The engineers agreed that reinstatement could be completed by 2022.
“The Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and the CPT wish to move past the current deadlock to find a way forward to re-establish a cathedral in Cathedral Square,” Bishop Matthews said.
“We want to support the city to move forward and we recognise the central importance of this building to many people in Christchurch.
“It is the calling of the church to minister to people; to serve the lost, the last and the least. As the body of Christ we use buildings, but we don’t exist for the sake of bricks and mortar.
“Therefore, comprehensive measures to ensure safety during deconstruction and reinstatement, and measures to achieve future safety including 100% of the New Building Standard, as well as sufficient financial resources are essential.".
The diocese will continue confidential conversations with the Government about the challenges of safety and cost which must be addressed before reinstatement can proceed, through a new working group.
Further announcements are expected at the end of April next year.
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According to The Press, Miriam Dean report found:
• Engineers for CPT and the Great Christchurch Building Trust (which campaigned to save the cathedral) agreed the church could be reinstated through a mix of repair, restoration, reconstruction and seismic strengthening.
• Reinstatement would likely take until the end of 2022 and cost $105 million.
• Replacement could be completed by the end of 2019, costing $63m to $66m.
• The cathedral could be reinstated "to the extent that, for most people, it would be indistinguishable from the pre-earthquake building".