The re-opening of Taranaki Cathedral is a step closer following the granting of resource consent for the earthquake strengthening and refurbishment of the historic church.
“It’s a really pleasing result and an important milestone,” The Cathedral Project remediation and design manager Jenny Goddard said after the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) reported its decision.
“It gives us surety around the design for the remediation of the cathedral and enables the drawings to now be developed further by a range of specialists and consultants involved in the engineering, historical and conservation aspects of the work. We will then be in a position to apply for building consent.”
Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary, which is New Zealand’s oldest stone church, has been closed for earthquake strengthening since February 2016.
The earthquake strengthening and refurbishment of the cathedral is the first part of a three-stage, five-year $15 million project to create a cathedral precinct on the site, incorporating a welcoming atrium and the adjacent vicarage.
“While we are working towards beginning work on the strengthening of the cathedral, we are still in the concept stage for the other aspects of the project,” Mrs Goddard said.
She said several months had been spent on the resource consent application to ensure the strengthening and refurbishment of the cathedral had as little impact as possible on the historical and environmental significance of the building and site.
“Taranaki Cathedral is an historical building within a graveyard that includes a number of notable trees, so protecting those features, and using like-for-like materials and concealing as much of the strengthening work as possible is a priority of the remediation work."
It is expected that as a result of the strengthening, the building’s earthquake rating will improve from below 15% of the New Building Standard to at least 67%.
In its decision, the NPDC noted 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”.
“This approach is to be commended (as it provides something of a best practice blue print to be applied to other heritage buildings that require strengthening) and is warranted given the building’s significance.
“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.”
A concept illustration of the redeveloped interior of the cathedral.