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Christchurch Cathedral project wins green light from planners

13 March 2020


Damage to Christchurch Cathedral caused by the 2011 earthquake, in April 2018

Damage to Christchurch Cathedral caused by the 2011 earthquake, in April 2018

WORK to stabilise Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand has been given the green light by planners, eight years after the structure was partially destroyed in an earthquake (News, 3 March 2011).

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake, which struck in February 2011, killed 185 people in the area. No one in the cathedral was injured, although the tower collapsed, and the main building, which had been seismically strengthened, was badly damaged. Aftershocks later that year caused further damage.

The diocese of Christchurch had originally planned to demolish and rebuild a new cathedral on the site, but, in 2017, after a public campaign, the diocesan-property trustees and synod, the New Zealand government, and Christchurch City Council agreed to reinstate the cathedral.

The work includes the repair, restoration, reconstruction, and seismic strengthening of the original building, incorporating the reinstatement of the original organ, bells, and Gothic features. The task is expected to take seven to ten years and will require more than 100 personnel to complete.

Since January last year, workers have been securing the site and recovering artefacts. An application submitted by Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Limited, a joint-venture company established by the diocese and the government, to begin stabilising the structure was approved this week, a newsletter from the group announced.

It states: “Being granted resource consent to begin stabilisation works is great progress for the project. . . Stabilisation is a critical part of the reinstatement project and involves progressively reducing hazards and making it safer for workers.”

Steel framing and scaffolding will be erected from August, followed by temporary weatherproofing. Some parts of the building will have to be deconstructed.

“While aspects of the building will look different during the stabilisation phase of the project, the fundamental structure of the cathedral will remain intact, and, once reinstated, the cathedral will look very similar.”

The cost will depend on the finished concept design, and will be paid for by the diocese, government, and public fund-raising.

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