Building standards policy wins first round

ALEXIA JOHNSTON AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2012
Reverend John Hayhoe
CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: Reverend John Hayhoe has temporarily closed the doors to St Mary’s Church in Geraldine

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Another South Canterbury church has closed its doors - temporarily.

St Mary's Anglican Church in Geraldine has closed as a precaution while it awaits a decision over whether the New Building Standard (NBS) policy will be "loosened".

An engineer's report shows the church, which sustained cracks in the earthquakes, does not meet required standards, with parts of the building falling between 10 and 50 per cent of the building code.

However, Reverend John Hayhoe hopes the church will soon reopen after Christchurch City Council staff recommended loosening the December 2011 policy, which has seen buildings that fall under 34 per cent of the New Building Standard being closed to the public. Under the changes proposed, buildings that are between 17 per cent and 34 per cent of NBS, but have not had any significant damage from the quakes and have no "identifiable brittle collapse mechanism" (or major structural weakness), could continue to be used if engineers attest to their safety.

A decision will not be announced until the final part of the royal commission report was released. Prime Minister John Key said that could happen before Christmas.

Rev Hayhoe said if the proposal is accepted St Mary's would reopen.

St Mary's was built in 1882. Extensions were added to the east of the building in the 1950s using reinforced concrete. Further work was done to the north and south ends of the main building in the 1960s, with the addition of reinforced concrete buttresses.

Rev Hayhoe said while those alterations had helped save the main body of the church it was still "earthquake prone".

He said plans were in place to ensure services would resume throughout the Geraldine area, at what is one of the church's busiest times of the year.

"There are four other Anglican churches in the parish so we're not without churches."

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- The Timaru Herald

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