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Levin and priority earthquake decisions

Intention to declare Levin’s Central Business District a priority earthquake area but not Shannon or Foxton

by Veronica Harrod

A decision to identify Levin's Central Business District as an earthquake priority area has been put on hold after other provincial council's expressed concerns to the Government about the cost to building owners.

Horowhenua District Council was not part of the council deputation from Tararua, Manawatu, Rangitikei and Whanganui who met with Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa last month about concerns their towns would be decimated because there isn’t enough money to meet the new deadlines.

Under changes to the Building Act last year the Council is required to decide whether buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) of Levin, Foxton and Shannon should be identified as priority earthquake-prone meaning owners must strengthen or demolish within 7.5 years.

Ms Salesa said she’s asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to give advice on the situation, with a report due back within the next two weeks.

Councillor Jo Mason, who chaired the Hearings Committee recommending Levin's Central Business District (CBD) be identified as a priority earthquake prone area, said at the last Council meeting she wanted to wait until MBIE had completed a report into the financial impact of the decision on provincial towns.

"I'm confident the decisions we made are the right one's under Hearings delegation but I want the resolution to lie on the table based on the advocacy by Mayors," she said.

The Hearings Committee, which also included Crs Bernie Wanden and Ross Brannigan, decided not to make Shannon or Foxton CBD's earthquake priority areas but extended the earthquake priority area in Levin from ‘between the lights’ to include Adventure Park to the south and Devon Street to the North.

The draft Levin Town Centre Plan states, "If the majority of building owners opt to demolish earthquake-prone buildings on Oxford Street ‘between the lights’ they would (if not replaced) leave large holes in the main street which presents opportunities for change."

The draft plan also states the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust would play, "principal roles...in commercial activities and development initiatives on behalf of the community...to manage potential development projects, including those involving its land."

In a report on supporting the establishing the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust council’s economic development manager Shanon Grainger stated, “Meeting the requirements of the legislation and consequent obligations (public and private) arising from national Earthquake Prone Building policy. Varying actions or proposals are required over the next seven years, all of which involve potentially large sums of money and considerable economic opportunity.”

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