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Christchurch revisits Cathedral cost

Christchurch Diocesan Synod has agreed to find more funds for the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Project, which has moved its focus to reinstate the stone Cathedral first.

Taonga News  |  01 Jul 2024  |

The Diocese of Christchurch has backed up its plans to reinstate the historic Cathedral in the square with a shot of new funding to help alleviate the $144m reinstatement project shortfall announced back in April.

Bishop of Christchurch, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Carrell said that Diocesan Synod has approved further funds may be applied to the Cathedral reinstatement project, over and above the proceeds of the building’s insurance payments. The Synod agreed to the change with the understanding that the overall costs of the project are now set to go down.

“Synod agreed, in principle, to reduce the seismic design capacity of the building, instead pursuing a seismic strengthening approach successfully completed in other similar buildings.” Bishop Peter said this week.

“The Cathedral will meet 67% New Building Standard (NBS) without the complex and risky installation of the base isolators. This would also attract significant savings of time. Christchurch Cathedral Reinstatement Limited is continuing to explore further savings to achieve a target cost in the range of $209 to $219 million, with a resulting funding gap of $75 to $85 million.”

Bishop Peter confirms that the 67% earthquake strengthening standard meets the requirements for IL3 public buildings that can hold 300 or more people at one event, making it safe for people to congregate there. 

The new 67% strengthening target overturns a previous plan to install base isolators that would have given the building a 100% earthquake strength rating, reducing risk of damage to the building, lowering insurance costs and reducing rebuild costs in the future. 

“This is not 100%, but it is an acceptable and safe standard reached by other churches and public buildings, including the Christchurch Arts Centre, which was built in the same period, with similar construction and materials to the Cathedral.” 

Synod also accepted the proposal from Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Ltd (CCRL) to remove other elements of the original concept design.

 “Reducing costs from other elements of the concept design will include deferring the construction of the Visitor and Cathedral Centres.” Bishop Peter said.

He explained that once the Cathedral is reinstated, Cathedral administration and hospitality spaces will likely be housed within the stone building itself, with an initially scaled-down visitor space in the nave.

CCRL Chair, Mark Stewart said he was heartened by the support from Synod.

“The project, as originally agreed [between the Church, Government, and Council] is no longer attainable. The decisions made by Synod will make a major difference to the overall project cost and demonstrate good will for upcoming discussions with Council and Government,” Mark Stewart said. 

During the Synod, Bishop Peter presented ways the Church could demonstrate their commitment to supporting the financial challenges the project faces. 

“This is a positive step forward, however the agreements reached are reliant on a solution combining support from the other parties, including donors, the Council and central government."

"We will all need to work together,” Bishop Peter said. “This is only the first element of a solution. We cannot do this alone.”