High Court halts Cathedral demolition

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 17:49 15/11/2012
The Christ Church Cathedral.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
DAMAGED: The Christ Church Cathedral.

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Christ Church Cathedral has been granted a stay of execution.

A High Court ruling today ordered the planned demolition of the earthquake-damaged landmark be stopped until further notice.

The legal challenge was brought by the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust against building owner, the Church Property Trust (CPT).

The trust, co-chaired by former MPs Jim Anderton and Philip Burdon, sought a binding court ruling on whether the Anglican church's deconstruction plans breached an act of Parliament protecting church buildings.

Its legal advice suggested that, under the act, the church trustees were obliged to repair it.

Justice Chisholm ruled in his written judgement that Anglican leaders were not legally required to restore the cathedral to its original form.

"Unless the terms of the Cathedral trust are varied, either the structure that remains will have to be repaired or it will have to be replaced by another Cathedral.''

"While there must be a cathedral on the site, it does not necessarily have to replicate the cathedral as it stood before the earthquakes occurred.''

But Chisholm also ruled "the future of the cathedral is legitimately in the public arena and is plainly a matter of intense public interest''.

Bishop Victoria Matthews said the CPT was pleased the courts had backed the decision to deconstruct the cathedral and replace with a new building.

''As we have said since March the new design will be a mixture of old and new and it will be beautiful,'' she said.

The CPT would formally commit to building a new cathedral in the square, Matthews said.

Architects Warren and Mahoney had already been engaged to work on design, she said.

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