Church proponents eager to be heard

The Highgate Presbyterian Church. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The Highgate Presbyterian Church. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Heritage advocates opposing the demolition of the Highgate Presbyterian Church in Maori Hill are hoping they will get the chance to have their say at a meeting today.

Richard Macknight said yesterday he had been told, after some initial confusion, that advocates would be able to attend a hearing today on an appeal against demolition by church member Tony Borick.

He hoped his brother, Stephen Macknight, would be able to provide evidence on engineering aspects of the issue at the hearing.

He also hoped Dunedin City Council heritage adviser Andrea Farminer would be able to discuss other opportunities for the building.

Stephen Macknight said he was pleased to be able to attend the meeting, but it was still unclear if he would be allowed to provide evidence.

The Macknights have led a campaign to save the church from demolition, and earlier this year commissioned a report that showed the building could be redeveloped to meet both the church's and the community's needs at less cost than developing a new building.

The church has argued shrinking congregations are no longer able to maintain its buildings, which face expensive work to earthquake-proof them.

Richard Macknight said he hoped there would be a fair hearing that would represent the concerns he had.

''All we've ever wanted, really, is for the congregation to get the facts and make a decision themselves.''

He said the congregation had in the past got a ''very biased'' view on the issue from the church.

Church minister the Rev Geoffrey Skilton said the process was out of parish hands, as the appeal was dealt with by the Southern Presbytery.

Commissioners decided the information they wanted, set the process for the appeal, and decided who they wanted to attend, or otherwise.

The appeal was not a public meeting.

A report would be circulated to parties involved once the appeal was considered.

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