Hope for honest compromise over cathedral

A bid by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to host peace talks over the Christ Church Cathedral wrangle has taken a step forward.

Trust southern general manager Rob Hall said groups in favour of the cathedral's restoration had signalled they were prepared to talk about a "compromise solution".

Hall had not heard from the Anglican Diocese but this week wrote to the church property trustees formalising the trust's offer to be an "honest broker" between the parties.

He "would be hopeful of a response" from the trustees.

No fresh ideas for the cathedral could realistically proceed without the church being involved, Hall said. "The building needs to be functional for them. Can we incorporate what they need with what we have left?"

Restoration and strengthening work meant the cathedral could never be exactly as it was before the quakes, he said. Overseas examples where parts of historic buildings were retained while incorporating modern technology or additions had not been fully explored here.

Bishop Victoria Matthews said last year that she was committed to having a new cathedral in the Square within 10 years, despite ongoing High Court proceedings with the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust over an interim ruling to stop the demolition. The church has opted for a modern design after consulting on three options, including restoration.

Hall said even a compromise option would never appease everyone. However, the Historic Places Trust was willing to obtain independent engineering advice and would even consider managing the entire project.

Hall said earlier that if the parties could agree to a partial retention, the city could be left with a "leading example of recovery, rather than a very public example of disagreement".

Such a compromise could also prevent further legal battles when the church applied for a trust archaeological authority to demolish and a resource consent.

The Press