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Potentially Earthquake Prone Buildings

Potentially Earthquake Prone Buildings

An update on potentially earthquake-prone buildings is included in Horowhenua District Council’s March meeting agenda released today.

The purpose of the report to Council is to provide an update on proposed legislation currently proceeding through Parliament, and to advise the Council of the current known situation in our District in relation to these buildings.

The Buildings (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill 2013 is currently proceeding through Parliament. It contains significant provisions for local government and will, in its current form, require substantial resources from councils to assess the degree to which affected buildings are earthquake-prone.

In brief, the amendments to the Building Act 2004 require territorial authorities to conduct seismic assessments of all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings within five years.  Building owners will then need to strengthen or demolish any earthquake-prone structures within 15 years.

LGNZ (Local Government New Zealand) is currently working on a submission, which Horowhenua District Council will look to present to Council for their support or otherwise at a future Council meeting.

Currently, there are 78 known potentially earthquake-prone buildings in Horowhenua.  Of these, 66 are privately owned and 11 are Council owned.  There are 41 located in Levin, 17 in Shannon and 20 in Foxton. All are only potentially earthquake-prone as they are currently being measured against an initial evaluation procedure which does not include any invasive assessment. Council recommends that property owners carry out further inspections at their own discretion and cost if they deem it necessary.

Horowhenua District Council Chief Executive David Clapperton emphasises the need for a balance between financial prudency and public safety.

“Currently, the proposed Act has a large focus on life safety. While we acknowledge that this is crucial, as a small District, we also need to be able to take into account our wider social and economic situation." he said.

"We have a limited rateable population, and we need to take a practical approach to these assessments and repairs over the next few decades, to ensure infrastructure that poses the most risk is prioritised.”

In advance of the public report being presented to Council on Wednesday 5 March, a letter has been sent to all property owners who currently have property assessed as potentially earthquake prone. This list may not reflect recent repairs or improvements done to properties since the original assessment was carried out.

Currently, all relevant properties in Shannon have been assessed. Approximately 20% of relevant buildings in Levin have been assessed, and 10% of Foxton. The remaining buildings will continue to be assessed as budgets allow, in line with Council’s normal processes.

ENDS

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