Diocese to move forward with attempting to save the Catholic Cathedral's nave

1 September 2015

CERA has given its approval under Section 38 to deconstruct the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

This approval means that the Diocese can move forward with its plans to carefully deconstruct badly damaged parts of the church in order to take all reasonable steps to save the nave of the building.

CERA has commissioned the work under section 38 of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011. The deconstruction must be in accordance with a demolition plan put together by the Diocese and its representatives which follows a 12 stage ‘Test/Hold’ process, where each stage must be approved by CERA before work commences.

Bishop Barry Jones says the staging process is a positive way to move forward ensuring the best future for the Cathedral.

“I am delighted to announce today that I can move forward with recovery plans for the Cathedral and all parishes. CERA’s commissioning of works gives the certainty needed to begin the major programme of work to repair, rebuild and strengthen those buildings impacted by the Christchurch earthquakes.”

Detailed engineering assessments focussed on the retention of the nave will commence later this year.

Lance Ryan, chairman of the Cathedral Management Board says that stage one, which is expected to take 12 months, will mostly consist of clearing the areas around the nave so a fuller investigation can be carried out on the ground underneath.

 “Depending on the outcome of those studies, we very much hope that the beautiful nave can be saved.”

Costs to deconstruct the badly damaged surrounds and to restore and rebuild the nave and associated sections are capped at $45 million. The Diocese is seeking to fundraise $15m in support of the plan.

Keith Beal, Property and Development Manager for the Diocese, says this outcome means that in addition to a number of smaller schemes already underway across the Diocese, some of the larger and more complex ones will now commence.

“This is a significant decision and the Diocese is grateful to CERA for the time taken to give careful consideration to its submission and the wider impact on recovery for the Catholic communities and the city of Christchurch.

“Adoption of the 12 stage test/hold process will ensure that the conditions placed upon the Diocese will be comprehensively monitored and complied with.

“On behalf of the Bishop and the Diocesan team I think it important to acknowledge the work of Heritage New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, Opus Consulting, Sir Miles Warren and the army of archaeologists, structural engineers, legal and planning advisors who helped identify all options.

Once the deconstruction has been completed and a full investigation undertaken of the nave and the ground conditions, the Diocese will be in a better position to consult more widely on the future of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.