"Shocked" members of a Wellington suburb are scrambling to see if anything can be done to save a local church from possibly being demolished - despite the fact the building is to be considered for heritage status.
St Matthew's Church in Brooklyn could be knocked down at any time before Wellington City Council has an opportunity to declare it a heritage building, which won't happen until at least next year.
The building on Washington Ave has been bought by a property developer who recently sought and received a Certificate of Compliance from council to confirm the demolition could happen without a resource consent.
Uncertainty about whether the church will be razed has left Brooklyn residents in a state of turmoil, many of whom have children who attend the early childhood centre currently run from the building.
"There's a lot of stress for us," said parent and Brooklyn Early Childhood Centre committee member Jess Teaz.
"We're all pretty gutted. There's at least 30 families that are now trying to find another space for the creche to go in, which is proving to be very difficult."
The centre, known affectionately as the Brooklyn Creche, is community-run, and has previously been leased through the church for a small annual fee.
"Finding something that is the same or less than that is really hard in today's property market," Teaz said.
Families were "confused and heartbroken" that they would soon be turfed out of the building.
Teaz said the developer showed up at the creche last week and informed staff he would be taking control of the property on March 5 and would like them to move the centre out of the building as soon as possible.
While the church has been sold, settlement has not yet been reached.
If anyone knew of a property the creche could move to, Teaz urged them to contact the centre with details.
Fellow local Daniel Clendon said there was "shock and concern" among the community that the well-loved and regularly-used building could be getting knocked down.
"It's a modernist building and really remarkable for its time," he said.
"Unfortunately the modernist buildings haven't had a lot of protections because they're not really old."
He approached the council last year asking for it to be given heritage status, and council agreed to put it on the list to review. But it will take at least until next year for that to come into effect, and the new owner is within their legal rights to demolish the building before that happens.
Clendon is organising an informal community meeting on Wednesday at 7.30pm at The Brooky for locals to discuss what, if anything, they can do to save the church.
There was a "feeling of loss" among locals, he said.
"It's such a lovely community asset and they seem to be disappearing quite fast . . . you don't want to build houses at the expense of your primary community assets.
"It's being used every day, basically . . . it's a real sadness and loss to the community."
Councillor Iona Pannett, who holds the heritage portfolio, confirmed there was nothing stopping the demolition from going ahead despite council signalling they would like to assess it for heritage status.
"I do support the community on this one, I wish them luck," she said.
"Obviously I would encourage [the developer] to think about [the church's significance] and just to see if there's some other way around this."
A spokesman for the Wellington Diocesan Board of Trustees could not comment on the matter before settlement.
Real estate agent Sam Newble was also limited on what he could say, but noted the Toomath and Wilson-designed building had sold late last year.
"I'm not sure of the new owner's intentions . . . I have seen it before where new purchasers will put in an application like that just to keep their options open."
The developer has been approached for comment.