Demolition fight is on
THE removal of an organ from an historic inner-city church is a ‘‘cynical ploy’’ in a campaign to have the building bulldozed, heritage activists say.
Those fighting to save St David’s Presbyterian Church, built on Khyber Pass Rd in 1927, fear time is running out to save it from demolition because of its need for extensive renovations.
A senior member of St David’s session has resigned in protest at the plans to demolish it to make way for a school.
The church’s organ and other historic artefacts are being removed while the building’s fate is determined.
Minister Doug Lendrum says the move is to protect the items from damage that includes a leak in the roof.
The 87-year-old building requires repairs to meet new new earthquake standards but a comprehensive investigation is yet to be carried out into the extent of the work needed.
Lendrum is in favour of building a school on the site.
He told the Auckland City Harbour News in September that the church feels it has no other option other than to tear the building down.
But the Friends of
St David’s group is fighting to save it. Member Paul Baragwanath says removing objects of significance is the first step towards demolition.
‘‘We believe Doug is effectively seeking to compromise the historical value of the church,’’ he says.
‘‘The next step will be to declare it a pile of bricks, then declare it dangerous and that it has to be torn down.’’
Lendrum says an
‘‘initial seismic report’’ carried out about a month ago found the building meets 5 to 10 per cent of the current earthquake standard for new buildings. The Building Act 2004 requires it to be no less than 34 per cent.
The Friends of St David’s has offered to pay for a full engineer’s report for possible earthquake-strengthening and to raise the funds for repairs.
Councillor Mike Lee says Auckland Council’s Heritage Advisory Panel has asked it to mediate with the owners to try to preserve the building.
Former St David’s session senior member Tony Farrow says he resigned two weeks ago after communications broke down between himself and Lendrum.
‘‘I said openly: ‘ I cannot be in two camps – I don’t believe in what you’re trying to do’.
‘‘The battle is on, you could say, between two groups as to whether they will or will not bulldoze the church, despite the fact that you have one group saying we will find the money and rebuild it.’’
Farrow and his wife Heather married at the church in 1961. He says the uncertainty over the building’s future is a ‘‘shattering situation’’.
‘‘All these people are starting to get involved in the battle, God knows if we’ll get there in time but I cer- tainly hope so.’’ Lendrum says no decision has been made about its long-term future. The mezzanine floor and ramp entrance to the church have been closed for safety reasons, he says.
‘‘We understand that there are people who feel upset that the building is deteriorating. We’re sad too. It’s a building of significance to our members and we are very aware of the part it has played in this community for generations.’’
Long history: Heather and Tony Farrow, who married at St David’s Presbyterian Church in 1961, have joined the fight to save the church.
Facing demolition: St David’s Presbyterian Church, built on Khyber Pass Rd in 1927, may be torn down to make way for a new school.