Demolition resumes in central city

Diggers back at work after holiday break

Last updated 14:19 07/01/2013
Paul Screen from England takes in the view of the Cathedral before the Red Zone cordons are back in place tomorrow.
Iain McGregor
Paul Screen, from England, takes in the view of the cathedral before the red-zone cordon was restored.

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Demolition is gradually restarting in central Christchurch's red zone after the holiday break.

Tourists streamed into Cathedral Square yesterday for the final chance to see Christchurch's broken heart before it goes off-limits again.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) partly reopened the Square over the Christmas-New Year period but closed it again today as demolition in the area resumes.

One of the first sites where the diggers were back at work was the former Burger King site in Colombo St.

Newlyweds Leanne and Paul Screen, from Britain, said seeing the damage first-hand was "pretty shocking".

"Obviously a lot of buildings that were damaged have already been pulled down, so progress is happening, but it's still pretty shocking and sad," Paul Screen said.

Leanne Screen, who works in construction, said she liked seeing signs of rejuvenation.

"When you come into the Square there are signs telling you about the central-city plan and I think that's really nice because you want to know there is a plan for the future."

She hoped the cathedral would be restored because "heritage is important".

Mary Wheatley, from Melbourne, is visiting New Zealand with her 18-year-old daughter, Kelly, and her partner, Nick Leith.

She last visited Christchurch 22 years ago.

"I remember what a pretty city Christchurch was and I've been totally shocked by how badly affected it is," she said.

"You see it on the news for the first few days [after the February 2011] earthquake, but then you don't hear about it at all and it's hard to understand just how widespread the damage is."

She hoped tourists would continue to visit the city.

"I'm really glad we've come here and I hope other people do too. Christchurch has suffered enough without losing its visitors."

The family hoped to revisit Christchurch in a few years to see what had changed.

Pedestrians had been able to access Cathedral Square at the intersection of Gloucester and Colombo streets, but the cordon was reinstated today.

A Cera spokesman said the move had been a success, with about 60 to 80 people visiting the Square every hour over the holiday period.

Cera hoped the redevelopment of the Square would be finished by the end of 2015, he said.

"However, the start and progress of any work in the Square is dependent on factors such as building demolition, infrastructure work and other anchor projects such as the adjacent convention centre precinct," he said.

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- The Press


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