Catholic Cathedral college to go home

03:09, Jul 11 2011

A displaced central Christchurch school will be able to return to its site next month, as work to deconstruct unstable parts of the nearby Catholic cathedral progresses.

Work to remove the top of the main dome of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is continuing, while the unstable rear section of the building is expected to be deconstructed by September 16.

Cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan said the work would allow neighbouring Catholic Cathedral College to regain full use of its buildings.

"Deconstruction would then allow time for the school to have the two key blocks ready for the start of the fourth term."

The school is returning to the site on August 1, but three key buildings will be off-limits because they lie within the cathedral’s "probable fall-zone". The affected buildings include 12 classrooms and a library.

The college has been site-sharing with St Thomas of Canterbury college.

Copper cladding and the cross that sat atop the dome have already been removed, while work this week includes removing the dome's wooden shell.

The dome has been divided into four sections, with each section expected to be removed by the end of the week, Ryan said.

A concrete ring beam immediately below the dome will then be removed in sections and the columns between the windows will be removed as complete units.

Meanwhile, a New Zealand Army robot will look inside the cathedral within the next 10 days to retrieve high-resolution footage of the earthquake damage.

"Several weeks ago we had footage from a drone that was very helpful, but a subsequent mission was not as successful and the drone is now somewhere on the floor of the basilica," Ryan said.

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