Download The Wellington App for more stories like this.

Consultation starts to identify quake-prone ‘priority’ buildings

The Wellington City Council has opened a Government-required consultation to identify priority earthquake-prone buildings, including those on key transport routes, which will need to be strengthened in a shorter timeframe.

Changes to the Building Act following the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes mean ‘priority’ buildings must be strengthened in seven-and-a-half years rather than the normal 15 years.

The new deadline applies to high-risk quake areas identified around the country. This includes Wellington, Christchurch, Napier/Hastings, Gisborne, Blenheim and Palmerston North.

Some priority buildings are identified by Government legislation and others by councils in consultation with their community.

The aim is to ensure the cities are safer for the public and can continue to operate following a damaging quake.

“Priority buildings identified through legislation include hospitals, medical facilities, buildings used for emergency services and emergency shelters, and most education facilities,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

“The Council has to work with the community to identify other priority buildings that could fall onto busy traffic and emergency transport routes. It will be critical for these routes to remain open and not be blocked by falling masonry or risky buildings.

“Such strengthening work also obviously makes it safer for the public during a quake. The Council is also investing in making the city’s infrastructure more resilient.”

The consultation identifies roads the Council considers priority transport and emergency routes and asks Wellingtonians to give their opinion on those routes.

The Council’s Infrastructure and Sustainability Portfolio Leader, Councillor Iona Pannett, says the Council is very aware of the pressure that will come on building owners if their building is identified as priority.

“Part of the consultation asks about the support the Council currently provides – such as rates remissions, consent subsidies, funding for heritage buildings and advice and guidance.

“We are keen to hear if there is more we can do to help owners so I really encourage people to take this opportunity to give us your ideas.

“It’s important that we hear from people and understand how we can provide support before making any final decisions.

“I’m also willing to talk to any group that wants to hear from the Council about the process.”

A public information evening on the consultation will be held on 30 October at the CQ Hotel, 223 Cuba Street, from 6pm-7.30pm.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to S[email protected] for catering purposes.

To have your say go to the Council website www.wcc.govt.nz/priority-buildings or collect a statement of proposal and submission form from the Council service centre or libraries or get one mailed to you by calling the Council on 04 499 4444.

The proposed timeframe for consultation is:
19 October – written submissions open
23 November – written submissions close
6 December (tentative) – oral hearings
Feb 2019 – City Strategy Committee considers submissions
March 2019 – Council decides whether to adopt the proposal
April 2019 – proposal becomes operational
December 2019 – priority building owners will be notified that they have 7.5 years to strengthen their buildings.