The mountain of rubble from the illegally demolished Sydenham Heritage Church will be removed in the next six months as the heritage trust plans for what will become of the site.
At its last meeting the Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board asked staff for a report to consider the immediate payment of the insurance money for the church to the trust to facilitate clearance, and made a $5000 grant from its discretionary response fund to the trust towards the cost of removing stone from the church to storage.
Trust chairwoman Dorothy Haywood said she hoped the site would be cleared within six months.
However, removing the stone and storing it would cost $75,000 to $100,000, she said.
The trust wants to preserve the irreplaceable Halswell stone blocks used for the church, and hopes some pews and the historic pulpit may also have survived and be able to be salvaged from the rubble.
"We need to clear the site and see what it looks like and what is available for us to do," she said.
"We would like to see nice seating, flowers, and possibly a temporary building of some kind.
"It is the gateway to Sydenham and needs to be attractive. The church and the Post Office across the road created a wonderful gateway and one of the sad things about the earthquake is what happened to those buildings."
The trust hopes to incorporate the Halswell stone in whatever is built on the site in future.
"We can't rebuild the church but there are lots of ideas we are tossing around for community facilities and a gateway to Sydenham," she said.
The trust also has four stained glass windows which were fortunately removed for restoration before the earthquakes, and an iron filigree cross removed from the roof after the September quake.
Built as the Colombo St Methodist Church in 1878, it was designed by Melbourne architects Crouch and Wilson, who also designed the Durham St Methodist Church - another earthquake historic casualty.
An early minister, the Rev Isitt was a friend of Kate Shepherd and had some very futuristic ideas about the church and its place in the community, said Mrs Haywood.
It had lots of sports clubs associated with it, including the Sydenham Rugby Club which held a church parade there every year, and tennis. "For people the church was the centre of their lives spiritually and socially," she said.
A deputation from the trust attended the community board's final 2012 meeting. Board chairman Phil Clearwater said the trust had tentative plans for how a memorial or monument could be erected at the site.
The trust had owned the church building, and so the insurance money should come to it from the city council, he said.
The damaged church was demolished after the February earthquake without any authorisation and without the knowledge of the trust, which had owned it since 2001.