Owners allowed brief entry to CBD

6:47 pm on 14 March 2011

One of the business owners among those allowed back briefly into parts of Christchurch's heavily damaged inner city areas to retrieve belongings on Monday found his shop had been demolished.

It was the first time business people and residents allowed back had seen their properties since the earthquake last month.

The limited access was to parts of the Red and Orange Zones.

The Canterbury Business Recovery Group says it contacted 72 of the registered owners in the zones, giving them a three-hour time limit to enter their businesses and retrieve material.

Urban search and rescue staff were allocated to those whose buildings are considered dangerous, and they were only allowed 30 minutes.

A Radio New Zealand reporter at one of the cordons on Worcester St says a steady flow of business owners, their employees and residents registered to get permission to enter the cordon.

Many business people were desperate to get vital equipment such as computer servers and hard drives so they can set up, even temporarily, elsewhere.

But some people were told they can't access their premises at all, as they are either too close to the Hotel Grand Chancellor or to other buildings set to be demolished.

And one businessman discovered his store had been demolished without his knowing.