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Council Revises Social Housing Closure Threshold

Thursday 28 February 2013

Council Revises Social Housing Closure Threshold

Christchurch City Council has today agreed to revise the threshold for closing its social housing complexes that have undergone a Detailed Engineering Evaluation, following a notice of motion recommending the change.

At today’s Council meeting, Councillor Sue Wells recommended that the Council should revise its threshold for closing buildings after receiving the results of a Detailed Engineering Evaluation (DEE). Since December 2011, all Council buildings – including social housing complexes – that are assessed as having a seismic capacity of less than 34 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS) have been closed.

Under the revised new criteria, social housing residential buildings that have a seismic capacity of 33 per cent or less can continue to be occupied unless they have significant damage1 or have an identifiable brittle collapse mechanism2.

In addition, the Council agreed that buildings that have not suffered damage but have a seismic capacity of 17 per cent or less will not be occupied.

The revised threshold is based on independent engineering advice.

Mayor Bob Parker said the Council recognises the impact closing social housing complexes has had on residents.

“We understand the pain of our residents being taken out of a house that has been their home, and their neighbourhood for years.

“This decision is a responsible and caring response to the plight of our residents, and means that hundreds of people will now be able to stay on in their Council homes.”

The Council agreed that occupants will be made fully aware of the issues of safety and the relative strength of the unit they occupy compared to NBS and the potential implications of that. Council agreed that this must be recorded on a case by case basis.

“The Council will ensure that residents are made fully aware they now have a choice to stay on in housing that is earthquake prone, like so many other homes in Christchurch,” Mayor Parker said.

“People may opt-out of staying on and we will do our utmost to help these people find alternative accommodation.

“The Council is committed to continue working with residents and our priority is to strengthen Council housing to above code where possible.”

Council staff will now implement the revised threshold and will review the social housing complexes that have closed under the previous delegation. It is expected that some units will be able to re-open and affected residents will be advised immediately.

The Council’s social housing DEE assessment programme is expected to finish in April 2014. All other Council-owned buildings will continue to close if a DEE assessment shows they are below 34 per cent of the NBS.

1) Significant damage is defined as structural damage or damage to the
‘load bearing elements’ of a building such as beams and columns.

2) A part of a building that, on failure, could lead to a partial collapse.


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