Hopes remain on cathedral

CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2013
Victoria Matthews
Victoria Matthews, Anglican Bishop of Christchurch.
Christchurch cathedral
MAKING A STAND: The Great Christchurch Buildings Trust will contend the Court of Appeal's decision over the cathedral's demolition.
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Bishop Victoria Matthews is relieved the Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to preserve the Christchurch Cathedral, and is committed to having a new cathedral in the square within 10 years.

The Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) had contested a Court of Appeal decision that the demolition of the earthquake-damaged landmark could go ahead. The Supreme Court yesterday declined that appeal.

Matthews said she respected the GCBT's concern for the cathedral.

"There is no question we share a deep love for the cathedral that graced Cathedral Square for 160 years," she said.

''[But] we are grateful to be able to move forward with our plans. We are committed to having a cathedral in the Square in which we are able to worship within 10 years and so there are some time pressures."   

The group opposing the demolition of Christ Church Cathedral is not giving up hope, however.

The Court of Appeal earlier upheld a High Court decision clearing the way for demolition of the cathedral to continue after the lawfulness of a decision to bring it down to a safe level was challenged by the GCBT.

Trust co-chairman Jim Anderton said there were still two other cases before the courts - one which was made as an interim decision to stop the demolition and another that would force the diocese to explain how it would pay back insurance money used to construct the new cardboard cathedral.

"There is still a long way to go in the legal sense . . . there are changes happening all the time."

The church had to report back to the High Court to prove it had consulted the public over its decision to take the cathedral down.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the circumstances giving rise to the GCBT application were of "great general importance to the citizens of Christchurch".

"That importance arises from the history, function and iconic nature of the cathedral. However, in this case nothing that has been raised on behalf of the applicant reaches the threshold of showing that the decisions of the courts below may be in error."

The focus of the GCBT's Supreme Court case was based on the precise terms of the trust by which the Church Property Trustees (CPT) own the cathedral and the obligations of trustees to maintain and repair the building.

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Another group, Restore Christchurch Cathedral, also planned to take legal action if a demolition was ordered. Spokesman Mark Belton said all the court cases could take years to resolve which could work in their favour.

"The cathedral will prove itself [to be safe] in that time."

A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority spokesman said it would discuss any further steps to be taken with the Church Property Trustees.

Press readers had mixed feelings on the decision.

Craig McNabb said it was time to "get rid" of the cathedral and build a new landmark for the city.

"Walked past it many a time but it will be a new experience to walk past something newer and safer for all members of the public and church."

Gerry Draper said you couldn't fix "a broken egg". "Feeling quite hurt here as well. Looking forward to see Christchurch rise again in her own time."

However, Ana Connor said it was "very sad".

"The heritage in our city has been destroyed by people who can't see value in what we had."

Tess Lenihan was unsure. "I am pleased that a decision has finally been made but on the other hand it will be sad to see it gone."

- The Press

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