Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breaking News: Cathedral asked to release reports

For ages now (well, it seems like ages), the Christchurch Cathedral and Diocese have borne the brunt of a significant amount of popular disquiet over the deconstruction of the cathedral. It is not just that there have been many newspaper headlines and letters to the editors, it has also been a phenomenon in which every citizen has a view about the cathedral, as many of us find when we talk to our friends, family and neighbours. Some are very accepting of the need to deconstruct the building and are already looking forward to a new cathedral fit for purpose and iconic for a new age. Others much less so, with many not believing what they have been told, and arguing that the cathedral can and should be saved.

Through this unfolding situation the relevant diocesan and cathedral authorities, centred on a Cathedral Project Group drawn from the Church Property Trustees and the Cathedral Chapter, have steadfastly maintained both that they have excellent supporting engineering advice, peer reviewed, as well as supporting advice from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA)'s engineers, and that they are not obligated to release that advice. For what it is worth, I trust the soundness of this decision.

Today however, in breaking news for the cathedral and diocese, a new development has occurred. The Right Hon Gerry Brownlee, Government Minister for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery has announced that CERA will release over a thousand pages of its files on the cathedral and called on the cathedral to do likewise with its files.
"Brownlee, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, said the cathedral should release its advice as there was huge public interest in the fate of the building.

"There is a range of views on the very difficult decision the Anglican Church has made about the future of its cathedral, and given the significance of the building, this issue is of huge concern to many people in the community,'' he said.

"I believe that if the public is able to see the advice the church has been working from there is likely to be more understanding about the extent of the damage to the cathedral and the rationale behind the decision to partially deconstruct it.

"At this stage, a demolition permit has been issued to deal with the dangerously unstable tower, and further permits will be issued to partially deconstruct the building as carefully as possible to no lower than two metres." "
Another report is here, now with response by our Media Officer, Fiona Summerfield.

I am going to be praying for our leadership as they respond through Bishop Victoria to Gerry's challenge. May they know the right thing to do.

UPDATE: Go here for the documents being released by CERA. Read here for latest report

Below that report are comments. I cite one here:

"Having scan-read the full document, from my point of view the correct decision has been made. The photos are very helpful The damage is not only to the west end of the cathedral but throughout the building and even in the apse, east end. Let's hope these documents are helpful to those who hold onto the dream of things past. It is gone! Focus on rebuild."
FURTHER UPDATE: What is going to happen, precisely? In this report a leader of the group determined to see the cathedral saved has met with Bishop Victoria and she has promised a response within a week.


Scott Mayer said...

Hi Peter,

Could you please clarify something. Is the opposition to deconstructing the Cathedral because some believe it can be repaired and strengthened in its current state, or they are concerned that once deconstructed it won't be restored to its original condition and design?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Scott,
Opposition to the deconstruction, as far as I can make out, is due to a desire to see the Cathedral retained and restored in the form it has been cherished by through many generations of Cantabrians. While it could be restored to original condition etc if deconstructed (and if sufficient funds are forthcoming), it is more difficult to believe this will happen than if a stay of proceedings is called and then a decision is made to fix it up as it is. It is my personal view, based on photos available to the public, that the damage to the cathedral is so bad that to restore the cathedral in each of its broken parts would be, effectively, to deconstruct it, anyway.

What opponents do not seem to give credence to is how very dangerous the building is at present for any workers who worked on fixing it.