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Iona Pannett wants St Gerard’s converted for housing

Report from RNZ
A Wellington city councillor wants the landmark St Gerard’s Church and monastery – closing over safety concerns – to be strengthened and potentially used for housing.

Multiple attempts to raise funds for the earthquake prone St Gerard’s have failed, and the building – above Oriental Parade – will shut next month.

Councillor Iona Pannett – who holds the heritage portfolio – doubts there is an appetite from ratepayers to stump up the $10 million needed for strengthening. She said while it is ultimately up to the owners, she would love to see it strengthened and converted it into housing.

“Given there is a housing crisis, obviously we want to maximise the space that we have.

“It is highly unlikely that this building would be demolished, I think there would be a public outcry.

“It also has got a category one designation by Heritage New Zealand and is protected under our district plan. It’s very hard to demolish a listed heritage building. In that case finding a strengthening solution is really important.”

Pannett said the rules allowed for changes to be made to the building, and its inside did not have heritage protection.

She said it was highly unlikely the city would step in and buy the church for public use.

“[There are] probably more efficient ways of providing for community space and we’ve already got some solutions in Mount Victoria.”

St Gerard’s was built in 1908 for the Redemptorists (the Catholic Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) and the monastery was added in 1932. It was taken over by the ICPE Mission – the New Zealand chapter of the Institute for World Evangelisation – in the 1990s.

The final service will be held on the Christian holiday of Pentecost in late May.