Submission on Changes to Earthquake-prone Buildings
Southern Councils Release Joint Submission on Proposed Changes to Earthquake-prone Buildings
(Friday, 8 March 2013) – Southern councils are
seeking flexibility in dealing with earthquake-prone
buildings to ensure the cost to their communities is not too
high compared with the risk being mitigated.
Lower South Island councils today released their joint submission on proposed changes to rules governing earthquake-prone buildings. The councils have previously said rural provincial areas and small towns would be seriously disadvantaged by the proposed changes and responses need to be more flexible, risk-based, practical and affordable for building owners and communities.
Speaking today on behalf of the Otago Mayoral Forum and 10 South Island councils, Mayor Cull says they want to work closely with central Government to develop solutions that address the risk of earthquake-prone buildings while maintaining the economic, social and cultural viability of the South Island’s towns and cities.
“We have worked hard to present in a constructive way the concerns of our communities and I have every confidence the Government will listen and respond to those concerns.”
Mayor Cull emphasised any changes need to be flexible enough to take into account local differences and be cost effective for communities now and in decades to come. The southern councils suggest one approach would be for the Crown to set out principles or outcomes it would like to achieve, but which allows for regional variation in how those outcomes would be met. This would give local authorities the ability to consider issues relevant to their own areas, such as seismic risk, value of buildings and population density.
“The aim should be to make the cost and risk balance as evenly as possible everywhere.”
The proposals put forward by central Government include shortening timeframes for earthquake-prone buildings to be assessed and strengthened and greater accountabilities and costs on local authorities.
The concerns outlined in the submission prepared by the southern councils include the scale of the problem, the cost of implementation, proposed timeframes and costs for building owners and the negative socio-economic impact.
The councils believe there may be as many as 22,620 rural and urban buildings from Timaru south which require assessment under the proposed changes, with upwards of 7440 that require demolition or strengthening. It is estimated upgrading those affected buildings could cost about $1.77 billion over the proposed 15-year period.
The 10 councils directly involved in preparing the joint submission are Dunedin and Invercargill City Councils, Central Otago, Clutha, Gore, Mackenzie, Southland, Timaru, Waimate and Waitaki District Councils. The submission also has the support of other organisations - the Otago Regional Council, the Otago Chamber of Commerce, Port Otago, the Otago Southland Employers Association, South Canterbury, North Otago, Otago and Southland Federated Farmers, and Local Government New Zealand Rural/Provincial Sector Chairs.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and
Employment has sought comments on proposals to improve the
earthquake-prone building system. The proposals were
prepared following recommendations from the Canterbury
Earthquake Royal Commission. Submissions on the Building
Seismic Performance consultation document close today. As
well as making a joint submission, most of the councils are
also making individual