When I turned up at the Environment Court last week to hear the latest arguments in the Erskine saga, all was quiet. It turns out that the parties were in mediation, which is a mile better on from where they were previously – even the Environment Court judge dealing with the case, who must see a lot of people not getting on, called the relationship ‘bitter’.
So today, it was announced that SECT (Save Erskine College Trust), the Wellington Company (the owners of the building), and Heritage New Zealand have come to a mediated solution. SECT and Heritage New Zealand have agreed that some work can get underway on the building project, while in return the owners have agreed to carry out further work on both the chapel and – crucially – try to save all or part of the main Convent building. Further engineering, design and feasibility work is going to be done on how to save the Convent building.
This is huge for Erskine, and the Wellington Company has reported that ‘All parties involved are delighted by this agreement’. If it comes to pass that the Convent building is saved, then delighted they deserve to be. The deal may mean that the development might lose the planned childcare facility and cafe – but given that I don’t know anyone who actually wanted either of those things up there, that seems like a fine concession to me.
Image – the interior of the beautiful Erskine chapel