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Response to Government quake announcement

8 August 2013

Response to Government quake announcement

Changes to the Government’s earthquake-prone buildings policy are an improvement on what was proposed though it still falls short in some aspects, says Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley.

“The extension to 20 years is helpful, although even that will be a problem for some owners.

“In Wellington and elsewhere there has been an increase in voluntary ‘market-driven’ earthquake strengthening by building owners irrespective of the regulatory changes but the 15-year time period that had been proposed was too restrictive.

“Forcing owners to comply in that time frame without taking account of different circumstances was not workable.

“Extending it by five years was the bare minimum, and enabling owners to apply for exemptions for low-risk buildings and allowing further extensions for heritage buildings is sensible.

“Too stringent a policy could lead to excessive demolition, abandoned buildings, excess pressure on the construction sector, and diminished business confidence, not to mention significant costs on businesses, residents and ratepayers.

“The government should look at compensation for affected building owners as part of its upcoming review.

“I’m pleased to see that the city council is well advanced in its assessment of earthquake-prone buildings, although there is justified concern about the capacity of the engineering profession to deal with the workload that will follow.”


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