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25 May - 10:11 pm NZ
Updated at 9:32 pm on 30 January 2012
Demolition of the first cluster of red zone properties bought by the Government, is underway in the Christchurch suburn of Bexley.
The eastern suburb, which will eventually be completely cleared, was one of the worst hit by the earthquakes in September and February.
Eleven empty houses in Seabreeze Close, Waireka Lane and Kokopu Lane will be levelled.
While many properties in the suburb are abandoned, a large number are still occupied by those trying to negotiate insurance and Earthquake Commission claims.
Bexley Residents Association secretary Aileen Trist says the demolition is a relief for many who need closure.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Bexley demolitions are a trial and changes will be made to the process if needed.
He says all 11 houses have been empty for some time.
Mr Brownlee says the first clearances will take four to six weeks.
Once that's done, he says they will look at any changes needed for future demolitions, such as hours of work, traffic plans and sorting of materials.
MP for Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel - who is also the Labour Party's Earthquake Recovery spokesperson - says the Government is failing to tell residents in the suburb of Bexley what is happening in their neighbourhood.
She says the Government has not only failed to communicate with those people living in the area but also with the people who used to own the properties.
Mr Brownlee acknowleges there is a lot of emotional feeling by people still living in Bexley and previous homeowners and he says officials have made every effort to contact people living nearby to let them know what is going on.
However, he says it's unreasonable to expect that, when someone sells their house, they will continue to be updated about what happens to it.
He says informing the first 11 former owners would have set up a tough precedent for the next 6,000 demolitions.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand
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