St Pat’s vows to fight
STAFF at St Patrick’s Cathedral say they won’t surrender to a skyscraper threatening their patch.
The cathedral opposed a neighbouring apartment development on Albert St earlier this year because a carparking entrance on St Patrick’s Square would ruin the “oasis of peace”.
The proposal for the building, called Saffron Apartments, includes 153 apartments and 15 mezzanine levels, which would make it the fifth highest building in Auckland.
But after an adjourned resource consent hearing in April, developer Sanctuary Group has now presented a modified application, including major changes to parking access.
Cathedral business manager Kevin Sherlock says it is a small victory but the fight is far from over.
“We’ll continue to fight this as long as we can.”
Instead of an entrance adjacent to St Patrick’s Square, the only access for cars will be on Albert St.
But Mr Sherlock says there are still geotechnical issues affecting the foundations of the cathedral.
The category one heritage building underwent a multimillion dollar strengthening and restoration project last year.
The Auckland City Council is currently upgrading the surrounding square at a cost of $8 million.
Mr Sherlock says there are concerns about the effect of vibrations from a nine-level underground carpark.
Though Sanctuary has changed the location of the carpark entrance, experts working on behalf of the cathedral say there is still a serious risk.
And the staff have other reasons for opposing the development, says Mr Sherlock.
“We’re still strongly opposed to it. It’s completely out of keeping with the heritage character of the area.”
Mr Sherlock says there could be much better use made of the site.
The church has approached the council about either retaining the former McDonald Halligan Motors building or turning the area into more green space.
During the April hearing, Historic Places Trust heritage adviser Robin Byron said the proposed tower is out of scale and would compete with the cathedral, diluting the precinct’s historic character.
Developer Gary Groves says he doesn’t anticipate further opposition to the proposal when the hearing reconvenes on December 11.
“Our intention is to make the church comfortable with the redesign,” he says.
Mr Groves says Sanctuary’s geotechnical expert will talk with the cathedral’s engineer before the hearing restarts.
“We believe we can satisfy any issues they have.”
Submissions close on December 3.