Streets with shortened deadline to fix quake-prone buildings identified

8:20 pm on 14 September 2018

Wellington city streets with buildings that will have their earthquake strengthening deadline shortened have been identified.

Traffic on Lambton Quay.

Photo: 123rf

Under legislation the Wellington City Council which is in a high-risk zone, was required to identify high traffic routes and emergency transport routes.

On those streets, the deadline to strengthen earthquake prone buildings would be cut from the standard 15 years to 7.5.

Before the new deadline, 216 buildings would have to be strengthened. Of that number, 75 would not be seriously affected because their deadline was within six months of June 2027.

Sixty-six would be 'moderately impacted', and 36 'materially impacted', a report in the council's city strategy committee stated. Thirty-nine buildings were yet to be assessed.

Wellington City councillor Iona Pannett said the reason the new layer of earthquake strengthening was coming down on the city was to save lives.

The council had been working with property owners since 2006 to strengthen buildings against earthquakes, but following quakes in Canterbury and Kaikōura, council policy had been superseded by central government policy.

Ms Pannett said she would like the council to consider becoming a lender of last resort, or targeted rates for affected owners.

She was confident buildings would not be left empty as a result of owners not being able to afford strengthening.

"The city's growing and the economy's quite strong, and space is precious in the CBD," Ms Pannett said.

"Really the impact is making sure the economical impact of the strengthening is limited as much as possible, people need a roof over their heads."

High traffic routes included all the city's bus routes, as well as routes that had 1000 pedestrian or traffic movements, and most of the CBD, the council's chief resilience officer Mike Mendonca said.

If councillors agreed to begin consultation on the plan, it would go for a month, and the council would make a decision on priority and emergency transport routes next year.