Anglican bishop worried over fundraising targets for Christ Church Cathedral restoration

Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch, and Moka Ritchie, a trustee of Church Property Trustees, photographed on Sunday.
JOSPEH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch, and Moka Ritchie, a trustee of Church Property Trustees, photographed on Sunday.

Anglican leaders fear fundraising targets for the $100 million Christ Church Cathedral restoration project are too ambitious and want taxpayers to foot the bill if the money cannot be raised, sources close to negotiations say.

Church Property Trustees (CPT) and the Government are negotiating the structure of a deal that would have the earthquake-damaged cathedral restored. The Government has intervened to break the deadlock over the derelict building as it is holding up redevelopment of Christchurch's city centre six years on from the February 2011 quake.

The negotiations are focused on how the restoration will be funded. About $42m will come from the Anglicans, campaign group Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) has pledged to raise $15m from donors and about $10m has been offered by the Government.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government has offered $10m in cash and a $15m loan ...
ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government has offered $10m in cash and a $15m loan to help restore the Christ Church Cathedral.

The Anglican church will have to raise funds to cover the remaining $30m or so.

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Stuff understands CPT wanted the Government to take on the fundraising risk and cover any shortfall. 

The Christ Church Cathedral sits decaying in the city centre.
IAIN McGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The Christ Church Cathedral sits decaying in the city centre.

A source close to the process said Bishop Victoria Matthews did not believe the GCBT would be able to raise $15m and feared their own fundraising target of about $30m was too ambitious.

"The bishop has always had a problem with the fundraising aspect of it."

"They don't trust the GCBT can raise the funds they say they can."

GCBT co-chairman Jim Anderton said it was "an insult" to doubt his group's $15m fundraising pledge.

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"We gave [the Government] a list of the donors that had committed to donate and they accepted there was no question about the bona fides and integrity of the people pledging money," he said.

"It is a complete mystery that the bishop would clutch at such straws. We could have that money in the bank in a couple of weeks."

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee has said he does not support the Government taking on the fundraising risk.

"The Government couldn't do that. Think of all the other buildings in Christchurch that have pressing needs as well," he said last week.

The negotiations are also focusing on who will control the construction project and who will be liable for the restored building.

One source close to the process said the Government wanted to manage the restoration project, then hand the building back to the CPT once it is complete. But Anglicans wanted the Government to remain liable for the building's insurance and maintenance after restoration, the source said.

The church believes it will cost about $400,000 a year to insure the restored cathedral, Stuff understands.

 - Stuff

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