Christchurch Cathedral reinstatement progresses with steel framing to be removed

The regeneration of Christchurch will reach another milestone on Thursday as the process towards removing the steel framing reaching out from the city's Cathedral begins.

A large crane will be assembled on the site on Thursday in readiness for the steel structure's removal in the New Year.

Leeann Watson, chief executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chambers of Commerce, said the work was another breakthrough in the city's regeneration after the 2011 earthquake.

"This is a really exciting time for Christchurch, and given the Christchurch Cathedral is one of the city's icons, and there has been immense interest both locally, nationally and internationally, this is a really positive sign for Christchurch," said Ms Watson.

In August, parties overseeing the church's reinstatement agreed on the terms of the costly and complex project, which Ms Watson said had been a "contentious issue" with "so many different views and divided opinions".

In the end, she said, people had just wanted a decision and to see some work starting was "really positive".

However, Ms Watson doesn't believe people should look to the church or other major city icons as representative of the overall regeneration work.

"The regeneration of the central city has been taking place around the cathedral. It is a little unfortunate that often the status of the Cathedral is used as bit of a barometer.

"I would encourage people who do come to Christchurch to look beyond the Cathedral and get out and experience the central city as well."

Project director Keith Paterson said the structure's removal was a crucial process and a big challenge will be not causing further damage.

"We have to remove it in order to improve safety on the site, remove some rubble that is hanging off it, and get a good look at the west end of the building," he said.

"Once that material is removed, or claimed off the front of the building carefully, it will be disassembled and the important material will be catalogued and stored for future use."

The cathedral was destroyed in the February 2011 earthquake, and while initially set for demolition, the government stepped in and the Church Synod voted last year to reinstate the building.

Major work is expected to begin in 2020 and is believed to cost around $100 million.