Cordon opens for inner city accessGILES BROWN
Last updated 10:45 06/03/2011
This morning saw residents and business owners-return to Christchurch's central city for the first time since the February earthquake.
The central city area bounded by Moorhouse, Fitzgerald, Bealey and Rolleston Avenues has been split into four zones, with the south western and eastern portions, Zone 1 and 2, open to residents and businesses from 8am.
These areas will open to the general public from 2pm.
Many of those re-visiting buildings near Christchurch Art Gallery this morning were too busy to talk to media.
At a legal office on the corner of Durham St employees loaded piles of paperwork into wheelie bins then into the back of trucks.
"It doesn't feel good,'' said one, as he hurriedly collected up files and a box containing a barrister's wig.
People were also able to pick up vehicles left in the area when it was abandoned.
A worker from a electronics consultancy company said he and his fellow employees were hoping the building they worked in would be condemned.
They had returned to carry out "reconnaissance'' but had lost confidence in the area, he said.
"To be honest I am not particularly keen to go back into it. It's a difficult situation because I don't think any of us are keen to go back into a multi-storey building in the CBD.''
City Mayor Bob Parker said he did not want people to return just for reconnaissance.
"We need (business) up and running to be able to return to buildings and get accounts and all that information and that's all about jobs,'' he said.
He "completely understood'' people's concerns about the central area.
However, the Christchurch City Council would ensure risky buildings were demolished or strengthened.
"There needs to be a very hard-nosed approach to ensuring the buildings left are buildings that convey confidence through construction to the people who work in them,'' he said.
He urged rubberneckers to stay away when the zones opened to the public this afternoon.
Only those with a legitimate need to enter the areas would be welcome.
"We don't want to turn people into objects,'' he said.
A date for access to the north-western and northern zones is yet to be announced.