UK pledge may lapse if cathedral not restored

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 23/03/2013

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The English millionaire behind a $4 million pledge for the Christ Church Cathedral could reconsider his offer if Anglican leaders do not restore the historic building, his former business partner says.

English businessman Hamish Ogston pledged $4 million to the cathedral just weeks after the February 2011 earthquake.

His former business partner, Michael Norris, who lives in Akaroa, said Ogston could reconsider the pledge.

"That is a real possibility, because he very much pledged this money to enable the restoration of the building. Given the amount Christchurch has lost he would be very much in favour of seeing the building restored," he said.

"He is very much minded to maintain his pledge for restoration. He is not totally prescriptive, but that is what he would like to see. He wouldn't want to see a building demolished that would have no reason to be demolished. He would like to see the building restored."

Norris is affiliated with the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust, which is campaigning to prevent demolition of the cathedral and is leading a legal challenge of the decision.

Norris said he kept in regular contact with Ogston and spoke to him last week. "He is looking forward to seeing the outcome of the legal action and see what the plans for the building will be."

The funding threat could put pressure on Anglican leaders as they consider the future of the Cathedral Square site.

Anglican leaders announced this week that designs for the future of the cathedral would be made public on April 4 for public feedback.

The options will include restoration of the building and a completely new design.

Ogston had visited Christ Church Cathedral before and loved the building, Norris said. Ogston also helped fund the restoration of stained glass windows in York Minster and was a former chorister at Salisbury Cathedral.

Ogston founded the CPP Group, which is based in York, in 1980. The company provides mobile-phone, credit-card and identity protection insurance services.

When it was floated in 2010, CPP Group was reported to have a market value of about $1 billion.

Anglican spokesman Jayson Rhodes said there were "no restrictions indicated" with the pledge and Ogston was waiting for decisions on the design.

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- The Press

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