Catholic cathedral restoration going ahead
A $45-million revamp of Christchurch's quake-damage Catholic cathedral has been given the green light to start before the end of the year.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has issued a section 38 notice allowing diocese leaders to start deconstructing parts of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes St.
It will take a year to investigate whether the nave – the central part of the church and about 2/3 of the building – can be saved and work on design.
The plan would only go ahead if the nave could be saved, the diocese announced on Tuesday.
Otherwide, the cathedral will be fully demolished and a new one built on the same site.
If it can be saved, it will take three to four years from the end of 2016 to complete the partial reconstruction.
Catholic leaders announced the plans to demolish and rebuild parts of the cathedral around the retained central space in May and applied to the section 38 notice in June.
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Deconstruction would take place in 12 stages, with Cera's approval required at every step of the way, the diocese said.
Cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan said stage one, which was expected to take 12 months, would mostly consist of clearing the areas around the nave so a fuller investigation could be carried out on the ground underneath.
"Depending on the outcome of those studies, we very much hope that the beautiful nave can be saved," he said.
Bishop Barry Jones said the the diocese was "overjoyed" it could finally move forward.
"We couldn't be happier."
Many families had been baptised and married in the cathedral and to retain it would be significant for them, he said.
Costs to deconstruct the badly damaged surrounds and to restore and rebuild the nave and associated sections are capped at $45 million. The diocese said it was seeking to fundraise $15m in support of the plan.
Keith Beal, property and development manager for the diocese, said the section notice 38 application contained more than 400 pages.
Detailed engineering assessments focussed on the retention of the nave will start later this year.