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Four houses owned by Ravensdown, near its Ravensbourne, Dunedin, fertiliser works, are being demolished.
Ravensbourne plant manager Tony Gray said the decision to demolish the houses was made because of how much it would have cost to bring them up to standard.
''The money that we needed to spend on them to have them habitable far outweighed any rental income from them.
''And I guess it's not our core business to be a residential landlord,'' Mr Gray said.
The decision to buy and demolish the houses was not related to any concerns over emissions from the plant.
''There's nothing malicious that we are concerned about that is prompting us to act in this way.''
The opportunity had come up to buy the houses and ''historically there has been a wee bit of future-proofing ... of the site''.
''I'll stress that we weren't actively soliciting for them - the owners came to us.''
The company also had plans to extend the ''beautification'' of the entrance to the suburb of Ravensbourne.
Chalmers Community Board deputy chairman and Ravensbourne Community Liaison Group member Trevor Johnson said it was a ''win-win'' situation for the community, as most of the houses being demolished were ''old and very run down''.
''I would suspect that Ravensdown are attempting to make the entrance to Ravensbourne more appealing to people,'' Mr Johnson said.
He had not heard of any concern from the community.
''Ravensdown has spent millions of dollars in recent years making sure that plant is one of the best in New Zealand ... in terms of any [emissions] escaping from it.''