31 Oct 2014

Poll 'challenges' cathedral demolition

7:24 am on 31 October 2014

Supporters of the restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral say new survey results will challenge the building's owners to seriously reconsider their decision to demolish it.

Christ Church Cathedral.

The church has been at the centre of a long running battle over its demolition. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

An independent Colmar-Brunton report shows half of the city's residents want to see the earthquake-damaged Anglican cathedral saved from the wrecker's ball.

In May this year the High Court lifted an order banning the deconstruction of the 130-year-old building which had started in March 2012.

The church has been at the centre of a long running battle between owner Church Property Trustees (CPT), and Greater Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) which, led by former MPs Jim Anderton and Philip Burdon, opposes its demolition.

The two groups have produced engineering reports outlining different levels of damage as well as vastly differing costs for its repair or rebuild.

Greater Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chair Jim Anderton says the poll being released by the trust today is the the first independent and professionally conducted survey of Christchurch residents and their views.

Speaking for the church owners, vicar general John Sheaf said he was a little surprised by the results, but would not be reading too much into them.

"It wouldn't be my measure of how people have talked to me about which way they want the cathedral to go, or which way they want the Church to go with the cathedral."

Survey findings:

  • Based on no other information than the High Court ruling that a Cathedral must be built on the current site, 51 percent of those polled said a cathedral should be restored and 43 percent preferred demolition.
  • Given the scenario of the costs of restoration or replacement being approximately the same and private donations rather than ratepayer donations meeting the funds needed after insurance cover, the majority preferring restoration increased to 66 percent versus 30 percent preferring demolition.
  • Although the Anglican Church may officially own the Christ Church Cathedral, 77 percent of those questioned thought they should have a say about its future.
  • 68 percent felt restoration would boost the morale of Christchurch residents.
  • 86 percent of respondents said the Cathedral was a vital part of Christchurch's history and heritage, despite its presently damaged condition.
  • 92 percent said Christ Church Cathedral had always been a vital part of Christchurch's history and heritage.

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