Photo Credit: Anglican Taonga
Moves to re-open St Mary’s Cathedral in Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island have moved a step closer after New Plymouth District Council granted Resource Consent for the proposals. Resource Consent is the first stage in the planning process in New Zealand and relates to environmental measures. In giving the consent, the council commended the Cathedral’s approach as a best practice blueprint that could be applied to other heritage buildings.
“As a result of the detailed knowledge collected on the building, the proposed alterations to the building have been well considered and are sympathetic to its scale, positioning and architectural design,” the Council report said.
The cathedral has been closed since February 2016 after a structural survey showed that it was rated at below 15 per cent of the national New Building Standard. The building, the oldest stone church in New Zealand, was constructed in 1846 and was described by Archbishop Philip Richardson as “a national treasure with elements of Taranaki history and national history.” The works will take the rating to at least 67 per cent.
In addition to earthquake strengthening, the cathedral will undergo a number of additional developments and refurbishment.
“It’s a really pleasing result and an important milestone,” architect Jenny Goddard, the remediation and design manager for the Cathedral Project said, as she explained that the granting of Resource Consent puts the Cathedral on a sure footing to go ahead with further designs for the remediation of the cathedral. “This now enables our engineering, historical and conservation specialists to prepare more detailed drawings on all aspects of the work”, she said.
“Taranaki Cathedral is an historical building within a graveyard that includes a number of notable trees, so protecting those features, using like-for-like materials and concealing as much of the strengthening work as possible is a priority of the remediation work”, Goddard said.
The earthquake strengthening and refurbishment is the first part of a three-stage, five-year $15 million NZD (approximately £7.8 million GBP) project to create a precinct around the cathedral, with a welcoming atrium.
In its decision, the Council praised the work of the Cathedral authorities, saying that “the overall design approach brought to the project has been to provide as light a touch to the structure and grounds as possible, even where this significantly increases the complexity and cost of the project.”
The next stage of the development will be to present further detailed material in support of its application for building consent.