Christchurch church attracts churches

11:11 PM Tuesday April 23, 2019 Colin Taylor

St Anne’s Church at 3 Wilsons Rd Christchurch occupies a strategic corner site on a traffic roundabout with Centaurus Rd. Photo / Supplied

A Christchurch church and vicarage are on the market in the inner suburb of St Martins about 2km south of the city centre with keen interest in the sale being shown by other churches and religious groups.

The church complex occupies a high-profile site on a traffic roundabout at the corner of Centaurus and Wilson Rds. St Anne’s church is at 3 Wilsons Rd on a 1057sq m site; while the vicarage is at 9 Wilsons Rd on a 911sq m site.

“Zoned Residential Suburban, this prime corner freehold site represents a significant combined land holding of 1968sq m,” says Courtney Doig of Colliers International in Christchurch, who is marketing the property for sale by deadline private treaty closing at 4pm on Thursday May 2; unless it sells earlier.

“Two titles are on offer, with the vicarage able to be occupied as a five-bedroom and two-bathroom home separated from main church property,” Doig says - adding that the properties could be sold with vacant possession.

She says the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch is selling the church and vicarage within the Opawa/St Martins Parish ‘as-is, where-is,’ to raise money for repair and restoration work to be undertaken on a neighbouring Anglican church - St Mark’s in Opawa. The two churches amalgamated in 2007 as part of a Diocesan rationalisation programme. 

“While St Anne’s was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes, both buildings are safe to occupy, they are still insured and services are still being held in the church,” says Doig. “These lovely buildings would suit a variety of uses with the buyer having the ability to lease them and earn a holding income while planning their repair or a future redevelopment.”

The church complex, constructed of a mixture of brick, concrete block and weatherboard, encompasses a main church hall, lounge, gymnasium, classrooms with amenities.

“Most interest in the sale to date has been from church or religious groups with some of them having lost their own buildings as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes,” Doig says. “Being able to buy an existing church building presents a cost-effective solution for them. Seldom do church groups have an opportunity to acquire a property ideally fit for their purposes.”

In addition to church groups, interest has been shown by a variety of parties, including childcare centre developers, investors viewing prospective apartment or more intensive residential uses; and community organisations.

“The zoning doesn't currently allow for conversion into a novel café or restaurant premises without a purchaser seeking the appropriate council consents and compliance,” says Doig.

She says St Martins is an upmarket Christchurch suburb and the property is very close to a well-patronised New World supermarket complex and the Beckenham retail precinct.

A press release on behalf of the Anglican Diocese quotes Ben Truman, the vicar of the Parish of Opawa/St Martins, as saying the parishioners are sad but philosophical about selling St Anne’s.

“It’s a site that has been used for worship for almost 100 years,” Truman says. “Services began there in the 1920s and the church there was built in the late 1940s. So, of course, we are sad. But we are very excited to begin work on repairing and renovating St Mark’s.

“As part of that renovation, plans are underway to include a small chapel, which we will call the Chapel of St Anne’s, in recognition of our parish history and to keep a new expression of St Anne’s alive.

“We are also looking forward to welcoming the students of St Mark’s School back into their home church again,” Truman says.