Council Seeks Community Views on Earthquake-Prone Priority Buildings

Thursday 23 August

Following Government changes to the Building Act (earthquake prone buildings) the South Taranaki District Council (STDC) is seeking public feedback on proposals for identifying Hawera, Eltham and Opunake town centres as priority areas where timeframes for strengthening earthquake prone buildings would be halved.

STDC Building control manager Lindsey MacPhail says under the new guidelines South Taranaki has been categorised as a medium seismic risk area.

“This means the Council must identify potential earthquake-prone buildings within 10 years, and building owners must strengthen or demolish earthquake-prone buildings within 25 years.”

“However, “priority buildings”, must be identified and remediated in half that time,” says Lindsey.

“Priority buildings” are those unreinforced masonry buildings (with hazards such as parapets or verandas), located in areas which have sufficient vehicle and pedestrian traffic, which would either pose a high risk to life, or are critical to emergency recovery, if they fell during an earthquake.

Lindsey says the Council has proposed that commercially zoned areas in Hawera (Town Centre), Eltham and Opunake (Mixed Use), as identified in the District Planning Maps (see attached), be used as the basis for determining priority buildings.

“Council considers these areas have sufficiently high pedestrian and vehicular traffic to warrant the ‘priority building’ classification, because this is where the highest numbers of people go to shop and do business.”

As part of the consultation the Council is also seeking views on whether there are any emergency routes which should be prioritised.

“The Council has spoken with the New Zealand Transport Agency, all the emergency services and the Taranaki District Health Board and we have not identified any routes that would be impeded by a building collapse, which didn’t already have an alternative access option,” says Lindsey.

More detailed information about the Earthquake-prone Priority Buildings and Routes of Strategic Importance proposal can be found on the Council’s website www.southtaranaki.com at any LibraryPlus or the Hawera Administration Building.

Consultation closes at 5pm on Monday, 24 September 2018.

ENDS