5 Dec 2019

Christchurch council refuses to sign off on new building due to faulty quake design

12:44 pm on 5 December 2019

Christchurch City Council is refusing to sign off on a new and unoccupied central city multi-storey building after a final ruling faulted its design.

Building at 230 High Street, Christchurch.

The eight-storey building on 230 High Street. Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

The determination from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has just been released to the council.

The ruling was the building does not comply with the Building Code but is not dangerous, it said.

The council gave consent to the design but now said it would refuse to give the building a code compliance certificate.

"It will be up to the owner of the building to decide what steps they will take to rectify the issues identified in MBIE's determination," the council's head of consenting, Robert Wright, said in an online update.

RNZ is trying to contact the developer, Hyang Kim.

230 High Street Christchurch is the narrow, glass-fronted building in the centre.

230 High Street Christchurch is the narrow, glass-fronted building in the centre. Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

A junior structural engineer blew the whistle after spotting problems at the eight-storey building on 230 High Street as it was being built.

Engineers have been arguing since. Three leading firms agreed there were major flaws in its earthquake design, but other engineers disagreed.

The building's foundations were designed earlier, and already have a code compliance certificate. However, plans for the building above, were subsequently changed by another engineer, Joo Hyun Cho of Seismotech Consulting in Christchurch.

He refused to comment to RNZ today.

The peer reviewers who approved Mr Joo's design before the council accepted it, Miyamoto International NZ, has not responded to RNZ's request for comment.

An engineer's report for MBIE, leaked to RNZ in May, showed the alarm was raised by independent engineer Aurecon in late 2017, and it took the city council nine months, until August 2018, to get a peer review of Aerocon's concerns done by Holmes Consulting, that confirmed initial fears.

The council then sent it to the ministry for a final ruling - or determination - and that has taken till now to issue.

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