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Earthquake-prone buildings under discussion

Earthquake-prone buildings under discussion
June 21, 2006

North Shore City Council is seeking comments from the public on two new draft policies relating to earthquake-prone buildings and dangerous and insanitary buildings.

Both policies have been developed in response to the requirements of the Building Act 2004.

North Shore City has followed guidelines from the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) and decided to take an active approach with its earthquake-prone buildings policy.

The council will carry out an initial evaluation of buildings in the city to identify those that are potential seismic risks. The owner of these buildings will be asked to further investigate the buildings' safety and to propose remedial work if analysis shows that the buildings are at risk.

"We could have taken a passive approach with this policy where existing buildings would only have been assessed for their earthquake risk if an application is received to alter, change the use, extend the life of or subdivide a building," says North Shore City's group manager building, Kelvin Goode.

"The active approach provides the community with the best possible risk reduction while a passive approach could leave some significant high risk buildings untouched for a long period of time," says Mr Goode.

Strengthening buildings to improve their ability to withstand earthquake shaking will involve costs to the council, building owners and the community.

"The areas most likely to be affected by the policy are the older areas of Devonport, Takapuna and Birkenhead and the effectiveness of the council's policy will depend largely upon the support and cooperation of building owners," says Mr Goode.

The council has also developed a policy for identifying dangerous and insanitary buildings.

Dangerous describes a building that, under normal circumstances, is likely to cause injury or death and insanitary describes a building that is dilapidated, has an inadequate water supply or sanitary facilities for its intended use that could lead to ill health.

"The council will be responsible for taking swift action if a building is of immediate danger to the public, and in most instances the cost of that work will be recovered from the owners of the building," says Kelvin Goode.

"In dealing with dangerous or insanitary buildings we'll be seeking the assistance of the public to report any concerns they may have and we could work with other agencies such as the Fire Service or the Auckland regional public health service to deal with the problem," he says.

Copies of the draft policies are available from Environmental Services, libraries and area offices, by calling 486 8600 or by visiting the council's website www.northshorecity.govt.nz

Submissions should be made by July 20 and will be presented to the council's regulatory committee at its meeting on August 3.

ENDS

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