Church takes time on cathedral fate

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2012
Work continues on dismantling the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament piece by piece.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was badly damaged last February and the diocese has yet to make a decision on the historic building's future.

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The fate of Christchurch's quake-damaged Catholic cathedral continues to hang in the balance, with new estimates putting the cost of repair work at $100 million.

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was badly damaged last February and the diocese has yet to make a decision on the historic building's future.

"We are really looking at three options – whether to demolish the existing building, to retain what we can of the basilica and rebuild to its former glory, or, in the short-term, whether or not to mothball the building until we have a clearer picture," said cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan.

Early indications were that the costs of retaining and rebuilding the basilica were in the vicinity of $100m. The nave was the only part of the existing building that could be retained, but it would still need extensive reinforcing to bring it up to the required standard.

Ryan said a decision could be several months away, as negotiations with the Church's insurance provider were continuing, and the diocese had other quake-damaged buildings to consider.

It was preparing a strategic plan on the number and location of churches to be built in the future.

"This is a frustrating time for all, but we must ensure we work wisely," Ryan said. "The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is only one piece of the diocesan jigsaw, and ...we are reluctant to move with any haste."

Other high-profile heritage buildings facing an uncertain future include the Christ Church Cathedral, the Provincial Council buildings and the Christchurch Town Hall.

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