Council Takes Sensible Approach to Earthquake Strengthening

Council Takes Sensible Approach to Earthquake Strengthening

Thursday, November 01, 2018

South Taranaki District Councillors unanimously decided against establishing ‘priority zones’ where timeframes for strengthening earthquake prone buildings would be halved, at Monday’s 29 October meeting.

The decision followed a period of public consultation where the majority of submissions were against establishing priority areas in the district.

STDC chief executive, Waid Crockett, says following Government changes to the Building Act new requirements and timeframes for addressing earthquake prone buildings came into force.

“South Taranaki has been categorised as being in a medium seismic risk area. This means the Council must identify potential earthquake-prone buildings in the District within 10 years, and subsequently building owners must strengthen or demolish them within 25 years,” says Mr Crockett.

“However, the new legislation also gave Council’s the discretion, following public consultation, to identify high pedestrian and high vehicle traffic areas as “priority zones,” which would mean that earthquake prone buildings must be identified and strengthened in half that time,” he says.

South Taranaki Mayor, Ross Dunlop says the Council’s decision to not introduce priority zones reflected public submissions and was the most sensible way of balancing risk with affordability.

“The reality is that we don’t have high enough volumes of pedestrian or vehicle traffic to warrant declaring priority zones in our District. Given we are in a medium risk zone, which already has established timelines for strengthening, the risk to public safety is very low,” he says. “These requirements need to be balanced with the socio-economic impact on our towns and the ability of building owners to pay.”

Mr Dunlop added that the Council is able to deal with specific dangerous structures through existing powers without needing to introduce priority areas.