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Earthquake Building Proposal Deliberations

These will take place at the 11 December 2018 meeting, and are worthy of close examination because they involve some fairly draconian proposals. These will put a number of businesses at risk of closure should they be adopted, albeit with somewhat of a delay in the case of those not involving un-reinforced masonry, or verandah/overhangs.

The area concerned, and designated as a priority thoroughfare is from 400-770 Pollen Street, and you may or may not be surprised to learn that Whangamata/Thames is deemed to be within a 'medium seismic risk' area under the legislation (Building (Earthquake-prone Building ) Amendment Act 2016.

All buildings with the 400-770 area are subject to determination of risk within ten years, and "strengthened, or demolished" within 25 Years. Any building that is in any way constructed of "un-reinforced masonry" will be required to meet half these targets - 12.5 years in the case of an estimated 20-30% of the buildings in the 400-770 area.

Here is the recommendation:

  • Complete initial assessment of buildings under MBIE’s Earthquake-prone buildings methodology;
  • Write to potentially earthquake-prone building owners advising we require them to
  • have an engineering assessment undertaken, or to provide an updated version of the previous engineering assessment undertaken under the previous earthquake-prone buildings legislation;
  • Advise affected building owners of reduced time-frames for completing building strengthening and reinforcing following consideration of engineering assessments.
  • Maintain a register of earthquake-prone buildings, their due date for strengthening and reinforcing and whether works have been completed or not.

It is almost certain that this recommendation will be adopted, and that owners of the buildings so designated will immediately required to undertake stipulated engineering reports - and remember, it is not just un-reinforced masonry that will be designated, but also verandahs and over-hangs. 

I can think of at least one likely to simply ignore the requirement, and plan closure at the end of the grace period.  The movie theatre comes to mind, but there are many other candidates. Our town simply does not have the resources, either individually, or collectively to meet this requirement. In time, I suspect that ratepayers will be called on meet the cost of them being demolished.

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