Group ups fight for cathedral

04:13, Aug 23 2013
Christchurch cathedral
MAKING A STAND: The Great Christchurch Buildings Trust will contend the Court of Appeal's decision over the cathedral's demolition.

Opponents of the deconstruction of Christ Church Cathedral will take their fight to the Supreme Court.

The Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) said today that it would contest the Court of Appeal's decision last month that the demolition of the earthquake-damaged cathedral should go ahead.

GCBT co-chairman Jim Anderton said it was a ''last-resort'' bid, but the trust believed it had a chance of success.

''There are only two possibilities when you go to court - one is you win, the other is you lose. You always live in hope,'' he said.

''Our lawyers are very confident.''

Anderton said it was important to clarify the status and future of the cathedral from the highest court in the land, ''otherwise nothing is safe''.


''You only get one shot at retaining the cathedral. Just because one or three judges make a decision doesn't mean it's right.'' he said.

The legal battles were costly and time-consuming.

Those funding them - people in Canterbury prepared to ''put their money where their mouth is'' to save the iconic building - would prefer the money was spent on restoring the cathedral, he said.

Having the application for a hearing approved was the first step, and the GCBT had 20 working days to prepare and file submissions, he said.


The focus of the Supreme Court case will be on the precise terms of the trust that the Church Property Trustees (CPT) own the cathedral on, and the obligations of the trustees to maintain and repair the building.

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

The Supreme Court appeal would argue against four main findings of the lost legal battle.

The GCBT will argue against findings of the Court of Appeal that:

- The public funds donated to the cathedral were irrelevant in determining the Anglican Church's powers.

- The church is required to have only "a" cathedral in Cathedral Square. Demolition and erection of a new cathedral is permitted, and provided funds are available to do so.

- The church trustees have no obligation at all to maintain or repair the existing cathedral.

- The church is free to demolish the cathedral, despite what is said in the Anglican (Diocese of Christchurch) Church Property Trust Act 2003, and other legislation.

The trust had "consulted widely before taking any further legal action".

"The Court of Appeal's interpretation of the deed establishing the cathedral would mean that at any time in the future the cathedral could be replaced even if it were not earthquake damaged," a GCBT statement said.

"The trust believes it is essential to seek clarification of the status and future of the cathedral from the highest court in the land."

Anglican Diocese of Christchurch lawyer Jared Ormsby said the Church Property Trustees were ''disappointed'' to learn of the GCBT's appeal to the Supreme Court, ''given the clear decision from the Court of Appeal and High Court''.

''We will respond in due course,'' he said.

A Supreme Court representative confirmed it had received the appeal. There there was no way of knowing when a decision on granting a hearing would be made, she said.

The Press