Cathe­dral work may start in weeks

Up to 100 work­ers and 40 heavy ve­hi­cles a day could be on the wrecked cathe­dral site

The Press - - Front Page - Liz McDonald [email protected]

Restora­tion of Christ Church Cathe­dral could start by Easter and take 10 years with up to 100 work­ers on the site at one time.

A re­source con­sent bid for the first stages of the work has been lodged with Christchur­ch City Council set­ting out how the $100 mil­lion-plus project would work.

Philip Bur­don, the for­mer Christchur­ch MP and cab­i­net min­is­ter who led the cam­paign to save the cathe­dral when the Angli­can Church wanted to de­mol­ish it, said he was ‘‘de­lighted’’ the con­sent had been lodged and the pub­lic could feel re­as­sured.

‘‘This is re­al­ity now and it is fi­nally hap­pen­ing. It has been a long process but let’s let by­gones be by­gones,’’ Bur­don said.

‘‘We could be un­der way by Easter and the sym­bol­ism of that is mar­vel­lous.’’

The con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion has been lodged by a joint-ven­ture com­pany formed by the Angli­can dio­cese and the Crown to run the project, and it hopes to start work in April.

Ground in­ves­ti­ga­tions and se­cur­ing and sta­bil­is­ing the site will take from 20 months to two years, and the cathe­dral in­te­rior will need to be de­con­tam­i­nated so work­ers can safely get in.

The con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion doc­u­ments de­scribe da­m­age to the early 20th cen­tury build­ing as se­vere and on­go­ing, leav­ing it vul­ner­a­ble to fur­ther earthquake da­m­age.

Outer parts of the struc­ture will need to be de­mol­ished to make the site safe.

The re­mains of the wrecked bell tower and the vis­i­tor cen­tre will come down at the start of the project and be re­built at the end. In the mean­time, the church wants to use the old po­lice kiosk nearby as a cathe­dral vis­i­tor cen­tre and shop.

Christ Church Cathe­dral Re­in­state­ment Ltd is run by a board and owned by the church and the Crow­nap­pointed Christ Church Cathe­dral Re­in­state­ment Trust.

A $42m in­surance pay­out is be­ing topped up by $10m grants from both the Crown and city council and a $15m gov­ern­ment loan that may not need to be re­paid. The en­tire project could cost $104m but fi­nal costs are not cer­tain.

Do­na­tions have in­cluded an undis­closed sum gifted by Prince Charles last year, while city ratepay­ers are be­ing in­di­vid­u­ally levied for the project for 10 years to cover the council’s $10m con­tri­bu­tion.

The first job will be ex­tend­ing the perime­ter fence 6 me­tres west into Cathe­dral Square past the ex­ist­ing site bound­ary.

A two-storey work build­ing with work­ers’ fa­cil­i­ties and site of­fices will be added in front of the build­ing near the ex­ist­ing Chal­ice sculp­ture.

The rear pro­tec­tion wall will be re­placed with a bound­ary fence once the build­ing is safe.

An­other early step will be de­mol­ish­ing the badly dam­aged front porch then seal­ing the ex­posed front to pro­tect it from weather and ver­min.

Pi­geon drop­pings and other bio­haz­ards have been iden­ti­fied as a ma­jor con­tam­i­na­tion risk.

The north gable and south transept will also come down.

New ex­ter­nal brac­ing and in­ter­nal prop­ping will be in­stalled.

Even­tu­ally work­ers will need to dig down about two me­tres to re­pair and strengthen the foun­da­tions and also to in­stall base iso­la­tors.

Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­ports in the con­sent bid say the ‘‘ex­ten­sive’’ ground works needed could un­cover old in­fra­struc­ture, build­ing frag­ments, Ma¯ori food preparatio­n sites and hu­man re­mains.

The cathe­dral floor, in­clud­ing its or­nate mo­saic tiling, will be re­moved and stored for the foun­da­tion work and later re­placed.

Half of the stained glass from the rose win­dow, which col­lapsed in mid-2011, has been re­port­edly lost, while sev­eral other of the stained glass windows have been re­moved and some re­main boarded up.

The con­di­tion of the pipe or­gan and or­gan loft re­mains un­known.

An ex­ist­ing Nga¯i Tahu plaque – com­mem­o­rat­ing the 1990s dis­cov­ery of hu­man bone frag­ments dur­ing con­struc­tion of the vis­i­tors cen­tre – will be stored and later re­placed.

The war me­mo­rial, three Lon­don plane trees, and Colum­bar­ium ash stor­age wall will be pro­tected dur­ing the job, and pub­lic paving lifted and stored.

When de­con­tam­i­na­tion be­gins, pi­geon drop­pings and other bio­haz­ards are to be re­moved quickly from the site to pre­vent air­borne con­tam­i­na­tion of the sur­round­ing area.

The con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion notes that the cathe­dral walls com­prise ‘‘a mix­ture of ran­dom rub­ble and ce­ment core faced with rel­a­tively thin pieces of ash­lar stone to the ex­te­rior and thin lime­stone ash­lar fac­ings in­ter­nally . . .

‘‘The rub­ble core is ex­tremely vari­able in qual­ity, com­po­si­tion and lo­ca­tion, rang­ing from hard con­crete-like in­fill to lit­er­ally rub­ble and loose stones.’’

It says the work ‘‘will take a con­sid­er­able num­ber of years to achieve, and has the po­ten­tial to re­quire a de­gree of al­ter­ation . . . to re­spond to re­pair and con­struc­tion is­sues as they are en­coun­tered on site.’’

New earthquake strength­en­ing could in­volve in­sert­ing re­in­forced con­crete into the ex­ist­ing walls, drilling and pin­ning the stonework and in­sert­ing struc­tural steel or ap­ply­ing re­in­forced com­pos­ites to wall fac­ings, the con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion says.

The project must com­ply with both the Re­source Man­age­ment Act and her­itage pro­tec­tion laws.


Stage one of the Christ Church Cathe­dral restora­tion plan is out.

An im­age of how the work­site would look from the north-west.

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