Govt 'crying wolf' on Cathedral sows uncertainty and mistrust - developers

The Christ Church Cathedral has been sitting empty for over five years. Pigeons inside the nave of the cathedral.
DAVID WALKER

The Christ Church Cathedral has been sitting empty for over five years. Pigeons inside the nave of the cathedral.

The Government "crying wolf" about Christchurch's Anglican cathedral and then remaining silent for months erodes trust and certainty in the rebuild, Christchurch investors and developers say.

City Owners Rebuild Entity chairman and developer Ernest Duval said the six-month wait for any news on how the Government intended to break deadlock over the derelict cathedral was frustrating.

The Government last year appointed mediator Miriam Dean, QC, in an attempt to break the long-running 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.

Duval said developers and landowners in Cathedral Square were waiting on a cathedral decision before starting to build.

He said the lack of action after the Government announcement in December eroded trust in its rebuild leadership.

"It is like the boy who cried wolf," he said.

"The creedence of the statements is diminished. People wait for the hoardings to go up and the equipment to appear on site before they believe it. There is a loss of trust."

He said the wait was frustrating.

"It is very frustrating, but many people have just accepted that this is the new normal for Christchurch. You get these big statements, but there is no follow through.

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"Christchurch is an oddball place. The heavens open and there are these great announcements and then there is nothing. It is like the cone of silence and no one will talk to you."

Propery developer Miles Yeoman,  who owns the former Press building site in Cathedral Square, said the his development plans were on hold.

"We have shelved our hotel plans because we need more activity in the square. It is a bit of a barren wasteland," he said.

"Everyone's lips are sealed now. There is no dialogue. No-one has a clue what is happening. It doesn't give you a lot of confidence to go out and get a hotel operator to take on our site."

"There are no time frames. When they do stipulate a timeframe they always miss them and then it just sits in limbo."

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said recently announced plans for the convention centre made it more important to resolve the cathedral deadlock.

"Now the convention centre is resolved it is even more urgent that we get the cathedral sorted."

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee and the Anglican diocese did not respond to requests for comment. 

 - Stuff

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