Cathedral can be saved - engineers

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 09:18 17/04/2012
Christ Church Cathedral
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

THE BELL TOLLS: A crane has arrived outside the Christ Church Cathedral as its demolition nears.

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A prominent group of engineers say it is ''technically feasible'' to restore the Christ Church Cathedral and have launched a 100-signature petition to halt the demolition.

The petition comes as legal action is mooted to save the severely damaged historic structure.

Engineers from the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering signed the petition at the society's annual technical conference, held in Christchurch last week.

The petition states the engineers ''believe it is technically feasible for the Christ Church Cathedral to be safely repaired, rebuilt and restored to its original form in such a manner as to meet all earthquake code requirements and make the building safe for future public use.

''We also believe the restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral could be undertaken so that it is restored to its former glory as the symbol of Christchurch and as an embodiment of the determination and spirit of the people of Christchurch to rise from adversity.''

In emails leaked to The Herald, petition organiser Mark Belton also revealed plans to take legal action in order to save the cathedral.

''Our colleagues have ... requested confidentiality about their legal efforts,'' he said.

''I would only add we are fully supportive of the legal initiative and would urge it is activated with fanfare very soon."

Belton said work must start to ''dislodge the repeated propaganda about human risk, terminal damage, and the outlandish costs [unaffordability] of full reconstruction".

The Anglican Diocese of Christchurch has maintained the building would be too costly to repair.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority operations general manager Warwick Issacs said, at the start of deconstruction last month, work could "probably not" be halted once it had begun.

When the Anglican Diocese took charge of the demolition, any changes would be "something they have to work with their engineers on".

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