Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that deconstruction of Christ Church Cathedral is on hold while the Anglican Church considers an independent report saying it can be saved.
The report is with the office of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, who is overseas until Monday, and Key has not yet seen it.
However, he confirmed the demolition had been halted while the church considered the report, which says "maximum retention" of the cathedral is feasible and can be achieved without any safety risks.
"I have had a discussion with [Brownlee] about it. My understanding is that there is a sort of temporary halt going on while the Anglican Church has an opportunity to talk to the interested parties," Key said.
In yesterday's Press, restoration campaigner Jim Anderton said Brownlee had promised at a meeting six weeks ago that demolition work would be paused.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker welcomed the delay, despite voting in the minority against an "immediate pause" of demolition work at a council meeting in May.
"I'm very pleased that process is taking place. I think it's sensible for all of the options to be canvassed," he said.
"That gives the alternative perspective a chance to put together an engineering approach and put that in front of the cathedral folk."
Parker was still comfortable with the Anglican diocese's decision in March to bring the cathedral down and hoped a "mixture of the old and the new" would replace it.
"My personal view is it is definitely time for us to move on. I don't have a burning desire to see the cathedral restored," he said.
Great Christchurch Building Trust chairman Philip Burdon was "not in the least surprised" by the postponement.
"In voting terms, this is a single-vote issue for the people who want to save the cathedral," he said.
"I'd suggest now that emotions are beginning to really sharpen up. I think it would be scandalous to tear this bloody thing down."
Cathedral spokeswoman Fiona Summerfield said the Cathedral Project Group, which was formed in April last year to manage the earthquake-damaged cathedral's future, would meet this week to consider the report.
It was unclear how a decision on what, if anything, to do about the report would be reached, she said.
"They don't know the process quite yet because they don't know what's going to happen from the reviewing of the report," she said.
"It may lead to all sorts of things and all different routes. Who knows?"
Three groups within the Anglican diocese had to approve the decision in March to bring the cathedral down.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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