Process 'un-Christian' claim Cathedral supporters

9:24 pm on 17 September 2013

Supporters of the restoration of the quake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral say they are disgusted at the Anglican Church's choice of a modern replacement, and are calling the decision making process un-Christian.

The Anglican Church has decided to demolish the 149-year-old building and replace it with a modern, contemporary design.

The Christchurch diocese says it was informed by Church Property Trustees on Friday that it has chosen a contemporary design for a new cathedral.

Bishop Victoria Matthews says the plans will be drawn by architects Warren and Mahoney and will be subject to the budgetary constraints of the Cathedral Trust.

The project is estimated to cost $60 million and take four and a half years to complete.

However, a group campaigning to restore the gothic-style building says it could be fully restored for $67 million in seven years.

Restore Christ Church Cathedral Campaign spokesperson Mark Belton says the Anglican Church has been "breath-takingly incompetent" in its handling of the debate about whether to restore or replace the building.

He says it is time for the church to hand over its custodial role of the now-deconsecrated cathedral.

Another group, the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust, is going to the Supreme Court to try to get a July ruling allowing the damaged cathedral to be demolished overturned.

Meanwhile, a body of heritage professionals is calling the decision to rebuild the Christ Church Cathedral in a modern design a backward step for heritage conservation.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, which is a UNESCO-linked professional organisation, says the decision ignores the building's significant heritage value, as well as ongoing offers of support from heritage groups.

Spokesperson David Reynolds says by choosing a contemporary rebuild, the Church Property Trustees are failing to address the central role the Cathedral has played in the history and identity of the city.

The trustees should stabilise the remains of the building to buy time for fund raising and conservation, he says.