Cathedral work may start in weeks
Up to 100 workers and 40 heavy vehicles a day could be on the wrecked cathedral site
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.