Everyone stays mum on future of quake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral

Weeds grow up through the pavement, grass grows long and pigeons roost in the Anglican cathedral in the middle of ...

Weeds grow up through the pavement, grass grows long and pigeons roost in the Anglican cathedral in the middle of Christchurch.

Government ministers, campaigners and Anglican leaders are staying silent on the future of the Christ Church Cathedral, months after an announcement on the quake-damaged building was expected.

Once outspoken restoration campaigner Jim Anderton is sticking to an agreement not to make any public comments while a community campaign group is now agitating for information.

The Anglican cathedral has been sitting damaged in Christchurch's city centre for more than five years, with no clear decision on its possible fate. The Government last year appointed mediator Miriam Dean, QC, in an attempt to break deadlock over the building.

Anglican leaders had decided to demolish the cathedral and replace it with a modern building, but those plans were caught up in legal challenges.

Church leaders and the Government announced in December that reinstating the cathedral was being considered. An announcement on how the deadlock would be resolved was expected by campaigners in April.

Christ Church Cathedral plans announcement due soon
Christ Church Cathedral announcement due this week
Christ Church Cathedral announcement expected in weeks

Great Christchurch Building Trust co-chairman Jim Anderton has been campaigning to save the historic building. He could not comment on the process as he had signed a confidentiality agreement with government.

"They [the government] have to be the ones that talk at the moment because they are in control of the process," he said.

"Relatively speaking, I know what is happening, but I can't say anything. We are bound by confidentiality agreements we entered into with government to be inside the tent on this stuff."

Anderton said he had expected an announcement as early as April.

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"They are to make an announcement. I thought it would be before now, but they have decided for their own reasons that they don't want to make that announcement yet. They are waiting for the right opportunity, in their view."

A spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee did not respond to a request for an interview with the minister.

Dean's report on the cathedral was published in December and outlined two options – reinstatement at a cost of $105 million or a modern rebuild for $66m.

Another group campaigning to restore the cathedral speculated that the delay was caused by Bishop Victoria Matthews. The Restore Christchurch Cathedral Facebook group posted a statement last week claiming the bishop disagreed with Dean's recommendations.

"Here we are in the middle of June and there has been nothing. Our only assumption (and it is an assumption) is that the Bishop is not happy with the recommendations and is not wanting to follow through with them. We hope that the government continue to engage with the Bishop and that we receive an update soon," the group said in a Facebook posting.

A spokesman for the Anglican diocese denied the process was being delayed by the bishop.

"Basically there is nothing to report at this stage," he said.

 - Stuff


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