Cathedral parties keeping quiet on Govt appointed consultant

The front of the damaged Christ Church Cathedral remains open to the elements.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

The front of the damaged Christ Church Cathedral remains open to the elements.

The parties tied up in the deadlock over the future of Christ Church Cathedral have been sworn to secrecy about the work being done by a Government-appointed consultant. 

Stuff understands Auckland lawyer Miriam Dean QC has been brought in to negotiate plans for the earthquake-damaged cathedral.

Plans for the future of Christchurch's iconic cathedral stalled in 2011 after Anglican leaders came out in support of plans to partially demolish the building.

Miriam Dean, QC, is understood to be negotiating plans for the future of the Christ Church Cathedral.
JOHN SELKIRK

Miriam Dean, QC, is understood to be negotiating plans for the future of the Christ Church Cathedral.

They had faced ongoing opposition from heritage campaigners, particularly the Great Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT), which wanted the old cathedral to be fully restored. 

While Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has not publicly announced Dean's appointment trusted sources say Dean is already working with the Church Property Trustees (CPT) and GCBT co-chairs Jim Anderton and Philip Burdon.

A spokesman for the minister said Brownlee would not comment on the process until it had been completed.

Photos taken by Urbex Central in December 2014 show the interior of the Christ Church Cathedral.
URBEX CENTRAL

Photos taken by Urbex Central in December 2014 show the interior of the Christ Church Cathedral.

Anderton said the consultant's work was underway and the trust was being "kept in the loop".

"But I have to respect confidentiality agreements."

In September, Bishop Victoria Matthews announced the Government was wading into the impasse to a full house at the Christ Church Transitional Cathedral.

"Indecision about the future of Christ Church Cathedral is having a significant effect on the re-birth of Christchurch from the centre outward," she said.

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Matthews said the consultant would "engage with the experts" of both CPT and the GCBT before reporting back to the Government.

CPT had agreed to participate on the condition it was not financially responsible for the cost of the consultant or any outcomes.

"It is my hope and commitment that before Christmas we will know the details about the future of Christ Church Cathedral as well as the larger Diocesan recovery plan," Matthews said.

Meanwhile, information released under the Official Information Act by Brownlee's office has shown that Prime Minister John Key, Brownlee and other ministers have been lobbied by members of the public to step in to resolve the cathedral debate.

All letters received have called for the full restoration of the cathedral.

Brownlee's office also released a copy of the letter sent to Matthews and Anderton and Burdon on July 1st, from Brownlee and the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

"We are concerned that the regeneration of Christchurch is being unduly delayed by indecision over the future of Christchurch Cathedral," the letter said.

It said the Crown had sought advice about the options it could take in the event that a "satisfactory solution can not be achieved".

The letter asked for an "off the record and without prejudice meeting" to discuss the possibility of a compromise between the parties for the "benefit of Christchurch, before any precipitous action becomes necessary".

Matthews said the appointment of a consultant was a "positive step towards finding a solution for a cathedral in the square".

"Ideally, we would like to see an announcement made by Christmas this year," she said. 

WHO IS MIRIAM DEAN?

*  Experienced mediator and arbitrator.

* Specialises in commercial litigation and dispute resolution.

* Appointed Queens Counsel in 2004. 

* Chairwoman of New Zealand on Air.

* President of the New Zealand Bar Association.

* Deputy chair of Auckland Council Investments, director of Crown Fibre Holdings and a trustee of the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

* Previously held a number of significant appointments, including deputy chair of the Commerce Commission.

* Has a law degree from Harvard University.

TIMELINE:
February 2011: Cathedral damaged in major earthquake.
December 2011: Cathedral further damaged in two aftershocks.
March 2012: Bishop Matthews confirms the Christ Church Cathedral is to be demolished.
April 2012: Demolition begins with west wall of spire.
November 2012: Demolition work put on hold by the High Court.
April 2013: Three options presented to public for cathedral: modern replacement, restoration, rebuild with modern materials.
September 2013: Modern option chosen by church.
May 2014: High Court lifts injunction stopping demolition. This was upheld in the Appeal Court in July.
September 2015: Anglican diocese announce plans to bring in an independent Government-appointed consultant

 - Stuff

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