Jim Anderton writes in the Herald in a very strong column about saving the Cathedral:
The picture of the ‘ruin’ that has been put on television and on the front page of the Christchurch Press on dozens if not hundreds of occasions is a totally false perspective of the damage that the Cathedral has suffered.
Some of the most experienced and knowledgeable seismic and structural engineers both in New Zealand and, internationally, agree that the Cathedral has not been terminally damaged and can be both made safe for repair and totally restored to the highest building code justifiably required for public buildings. No similar building in any other part of the world that I have experienced, would remotely be a candidate for demolition.
Jim Anderton with Anna Crighton at the Cathedral last week
I recommend reading it yourself. Labour’s policy announced last week was not one taken lightly; we recognise the significance of the Cathedral and the ownership of the Anglican Church. All that we have said is that if it is to be demolished, then it should not be under the provisions of the Section 38 powers. These powers were given to the government so that they could demolish buildings for public safety without going through an RMA process. More than 3 and a half years later, it is clear that the building provides no immediate hazard to the public. If the Church wants to demolish it, then they should have to go through the process of having it removed from the register of historic buildings. To do this would require a process under the RMA, in which all sides could present their cases.
If the building is to come down, then so be it. But it should only be through a robust process, not the abuse of extraordinary powers.
(I stole the blog post title from this Decemberist song)
An opinion piece in this morning’s Press advocates for retention of the Christ Church Cathedral. It comes from British writer and heritage adviser Richard Terry, and again highlights the folly of the position taken by the Bishop and others;
Christ Church Cathedral speaks directly to us with an irreplaceable authority. It gives a voice to the remarkable historical and cultural movements that gave birth to its city and to Canterbury province. To lose this unique and singular voice would be a great loss, felt ever more acutely in the long term, which would prove detrimental to Christchurch. It should be spared from total demolition.
My personal preference would be to see the Cathedral rebuilt on the current site, using the wooden frame that was initially proposed by George Gilbert Scott, then revived by Sir Miles Warren. This ticks all the boxes – sympathetic to the heritage of the building, a very reasonable cost, and seismic stability. The Cathedral is the symbol of Christchurch, and if we don’t rebuild it, I think that says something very symbolic – and very sad – about the recovery as a whole.
There is an interesting opinion from Ric Stevens in the paper this morning, which I think leans towards retaining the cathedral. Interesting, because I’ve heard suggestions that it was Stevens who was leading the Press’s extraordinary campaign against the town hall – and he manages to get a dig in about that here, both denigrating the use of the building, and inflating the cost.
Will ours be the generation which saved the Town Hall but lost the old cathedral, spending $227m on a concert chamber and less than one-third of that on a replacement church?
My views on the Cathedral have hardened over time. It can be restored, and it should be. It is the symbol of the city, and though it is technically owned by the church, the spiritual owners are the people of Christchurch, those who’ve left the city, who’ve moved to the city, those who died in the city and those who are yet to be born in the city. I’d like to see Sir Miles Warren’s wooden restoration being discussed again, as I think that is a happy compromise on heritage, modernity and cost.
Ultimately, this will be a decision for the Anglican Church. If they want to build a new Cathedral, that’s their call. But if that is what they decide, then I think they should be looking for a new site. This is Cathedral Square, defined by the building. When the planners laid out the square, they were very generous, maybe thinking we’d be a city of a million. That hasn’t happened. If the church wants to redesign their building, then I think the Council should take the chance to redesign the square too. It may be that in a modern, secular society, we chose not to have our civic heart beholden to an antiquated religion.
Martin van Beynen has a very good column about the pointlessness of the central city tram:
There is very little that is normal about immaculately restored vehicles from early last century plying a route through a broken-down city and offering a service to mostly non-existent people. The sort of normality the tram represents is gone, brutally. I’m not even considering the cost of the resumption, which will be close to $2m.
While he also gets into bagging the Cardboard Cathedral, I haven’t been in yet, so don’t really have an opinion on that. But I do agree with him on the Cathedral, and now that we’re done with the Town Hall, we might be able to focus on that. I think a good compromise between the Greater Christchurch Building Trust and the Anglican Church might be the wooden restoration proposed by Sir Miles Warren, which incorporated the original timber framing proposal.
The Minister of Tourism has released a new advertising campaign to try and attract more visitors to quake damaged Christchurch