Cathedral rescue bid rejected

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2012
Christ Church Cathedral
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
LOWERED: Christ Church Cathedral continues to come down despite efforts to stop it being demolished

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A last-gasp plea to save Christ Church Cathedral has been rejected by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Campaigners called for government intervention after Anglican leaders rejected a proposal to restore the quake-damaged building.

Brownlee told The Press: "We haven't gone around taking buildings off other people and we are not about to do that with the Anglican Church.

"The Anglican Church have behaved responsibly here. They are going about this in a very considered and methodical manner, and they should be allowed to continue to do that."

The Restore Christ Church Cathedral Group had proposed sharing restoration costs between the Anglican diocese, the Christchurch City Council and the Government. Fundraising would have provided the balance of funds.

The cathedral would be largely demolished, leaving walls about two to three metres high, Anglican leaders said in March.

A spokeswoman for the Anglican diocese said the campaigners' proposal would not be implemented.

"After looking at the ideas and information provided, there have been a number of further discussions within the various decision-making groups of the diocese," she said.

"After carefully considering the information, it was determined there were no new considerations that had not already been thoroughly reviewed prior to the decision announced on March 2.

"The plans to deconstruct the cathedral will continue with all care and respect, as already announced.

"Having listened to the feedback, we have decided that a peer-review engineer will be sought to assist and support our engineers with any difficult technical or safety matters throughout the deconstruction."

It has emerged that Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Roger Sutton became involved in the cathedral row last week, telling Anglican leaders there was no need to rush any decisions.

He left a voicemail for Bishop Victoria Matthews last week, a Cera spokeswoman said.

"Roger Sutton called the bishop last week and simply mentioned that she need not feel she had to rush her important decision-making."

The spokeswoman said Cera was not involved in the cathedral process, but would have to approve any demolition plans.

Restore Christ Church Cathedral Group spokesman Mark Belton said the Government needed to intervene to save the building.

"We want to challenge the Government to step in. It is in the national interest to take over this property and fix it," he said.

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