Friday, November 16, 2012

Cathedral Demolition Stopped

A High Court judge has halted demolition of the earthquake-savaged Christchurch Cathedral.
Late yesterday, the judge extended a ruling to stop demolition work until a judicial review has taken place. The review was sought by the the Great Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT), which argues the owners are under a legal obligation to restore the existing cathedral. Justice Lester Chisholm allowed the review, saying there was considerable public interest in the issue. However he agreed with the owners that they were only legally obliged to either repair the existing cathedral or build another on the same site.
After the Feb.2011 EQ, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) said the cathedral was unsafe and needed to be demolished to 2m high, but Chisholm today ruled they were not required to act on that.
Earlier this year, the GCBT commissioned a report that claimed the cathedral could be safely restored. In October, it sought a binding court ruling on whether the Anglican Church's deconstruction plans breached an act of Parliament protecting church buildings. However, the Cathedral Trust has maintained restoring the historical building would be unsafe and they cannot affort the $100m cost to repair it.
EQ Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the last-minute decision is to "placate the masses", while Bishop Matthews says the cathedral has become a way for councillors to regain their reputation with Cantabrians.
But in light of this decision, one wonders just how many of CERA's other rapid demolition decisions - for example, the loss of Cranmer Courts - may not have been legally binding...and just how much of a bully and a bulldozer Gerry "Who ate all the pies!" Brownlee actually is!

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