29 Jun 2018

Christ Church cathedral works set to begin

7:19 pm on 29 June 2018

Work on the quake-damaged Christ Church cathedral site could finally begin within weeks.

Christchurch cathedral.

Christchurch cathedral. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The cathedral has sat desolate since the 2011 earthquake, and the Anglican Church and heritage groups have battled over its future since.

That all came to an end last September when the Synod voted to restore it, and today the government announced the company that would be responsible for doing the work was almost ready.

"I think one of things the people of Christchurch are looking forward to is seeing momentum around that building," said Megan Woods, the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration.

It is expected to cost $104 million to reinstate the cathedral, with funds sourced from government and council grants and loans, and the church's $42m insurance proceeds.

Church Property Trustees and the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Trust have been locked in negotiations for months to try and hammer out how their joint venture would work.

Parties have now come to an agreement, and today the joint venture's new boss, former investment banker Justin Murray, said he hoped clearing and decontamination work could begin next month.

"The early works will be around site preparation, and as you can image it is not a small project, but we want to get under way with that," he said.

Mr Murray said there was still a lot of work to do before work on the main building could begin.

"I don't think there will be stonemasons on site for many months, because that preparation work needs to be done first," he said.

"We need to ensure, in a project of this magnitude, that we don't rush into something before we are thoroughly prepared for it."

Not everyone was happy with the pace of work.

Christchurch locals in Cathedral Square today said it had taken too long to restore what had been dubbed a "bomb site".

"They keep spending all this time getting groups together to have a discussion. It seems to be no one is making a decision to get something done, and when they do decide it takes forever," one person said.

"It's dragged on and on, and it's been a lot of talking but an incredible lack of actual," said another.

The final sign-off on the joint venture is expected in the coming weeks - the Cathedral, on the other had, is not expected to be completed for at least seven years.

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