Sir Miles Warren design may break four-year Christ Church Cathedral deadlock
Anglican leaders are considering restoration options for the earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral to break the legal deadlock over the historic building.
A plan by one of New Zealand's most celebrated architects, Sir Miles Warren, is back on the table and church engineers are talking with restoration campaigners about practical ways to repair the cathedral.
Read more: Sir Miles Warren explains his new design in full
The moves are the first sign of a thaw in relations between campaigners and the church in the four-year legal battle over the cathedral.
Anglican leaders favour demolishing the stricken church and building a modern replacement.
Warren was approached by the church about his restoration scheme in December. It proposes rebuilding the cathedral with modern materials, creating a spacious and modern Gothic interior.
Anglican leaders want to canvas public opinion on the Warren plan as a possible compromise, church spokesman Jayson Rhodes said.
"The trustees want to know what Christchurch thinks of this scheme. The city wants to rebuild and the cathedral is a road block for moving forward. Sir Miles has a way forward here and we could get out of this road block."
"The trustees are saying: 'Let's talk about a way to avoid any more legal challenges so we have a future rather than a deadlock'."
Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chairman Philip Burdon, who has been campaigning to restore the cathedral, said he was surprised the Warren scheme was being considered.
"Our engineers are in confidential discussions with church engineers to find an engineering solution to the restoration.
"Is there a conflict in recommending the Miles Warren scheme while they are engaged in confidential discussions about the practicalities of an engineering solution for restoration?"
Rhodes said the restoration talks with the trust would start in June.
A modern replacement design for the cathedral was chosen by Anglican leaders in September 2013.
The High Court ruled in May last year that demolition could go ahead, but Anglican leaders would still need to seek demolition consent, which would likely trigger a further legal challenge.
Rhodes said the modern scheme was still the preferred option and there was no timeframe for any possible decision on a new scheme.
"Time is running out ... Obviously, the longer this is deadlocked, the higher the legal costs."
Warren originally presented his plan to Anglican leaders in March 2012. He believed the cathedral was the symbol of the city and should be restored.
"It would be a tragedy for Christchurch to lose its symbolic building. It's prime function is an Anglican cathedral, but it is also the principal heritage building in Christchurch. It is Christchurch."
Warren's scheme features a modern wooden interior, echoing the original Gothic lines. The space would feel more open as the number of columns would be reduced and made of slender wood rather than stone.
The exterior of the building would look similar to the original cathedral but with wood cladding on the upper sections of the walls and a copper roof instead of slate.
The plan would cost about $35.2 million and take about three years to complete.
February 2011: Cathedral damaged in major earthquake.
December 2011: Cathedral further damaged in two aftershocks.
April 2012: Demolition begins with west wall of spire.
November 2012: Demolition work put on hold by the High Court.
September 2013: Modern option chosen by church.
- The Press