No reprieve, no respite

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - SAM KILMISTER

The Gov­ern­ment will not ease time­lines on build­ing own­ers to strengthen or de­mol­ish earth­quake prone struc­tures, nor is it plan­ning to re­visit leg­is­la­tion.

The Build­ing Amend­ment Act came into force on July 1 and calls for ev­ery build­ing in the coun­try to be more than 34 per cent of the build­ing code. If un­der, own­ers have 15 years to strengthen or de­mol­ish their build­ing or seven and a half years if they’re in high seis­mic ar­eas, such as Manawatu¯ , Ran­gitı¯kei and Welling­ton.

But the level of in­vest­ment will crip­ple ru­ral towns and end with streets of red-stick­ered sec­tions and de­mo­li­tion sites, own­ers say.

They’re un­likely to get the reprieve they want, with the Gov­ern­ment not back­ing down over leg­is­la­tion sparked by the 2011 Christchurch earth­quake, Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Min­is­ter Jenny Salesa said.

The Act seeks to bal­ance safety of life, cost and im­pacts on her­itage, Salesa said.

‘‘We do not cre­ate leg­is­la­tion such as this lightly, nor are we un­aware of the bur­den it places on build­ing own­ers. How­ever, our pri­or­ity is [the] safety of build­ing oc­cu­pants and cit­i­zens in the streets. And we do be­lieve build­ing own­ers have a duty of care.’’

Only her­itage build­ings were al­lowed limited time ex­ten­sions if they were tak­ing steps to man­age risks, Salesa said.

She said the Gov­ern­ment was hold­ing it­self to ac­count by up­grad­ing all state-owned hos­pi­tals, and emer­gency and ed­u­ca­tion build­ings.

The Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment would con­tinue to work with coun­cils around the coun­try to iden­tify earth­quake-prone build­ings by Jan­uary 31, 2019, for high seis­mic ar­eas.

Min­istry spokes­woman Katherine Allen said of­fi­cials could help build­ing own­ers with in­for­ma­tion on her­itage funds and pos­si­ble ex­ten­sions, but their first port of call should be to coun­cils.

Own­ers would make their own de­ci­sions on whether to strengthen or de­mol­ish based on the build­ing’s eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity.

Sev­eral busi­ness and build­ing own­ers were near­ing the age of re­tire­ment and, in­stead of the sleep­less nights and fi­nan­cial stress of re­pair­ing build­ings, they would likely just walk away, Gra­cies Cloth­ing owner Kerry Gra­cie said.

Feild­ing’s Rose­bowl Cafe owner Robert McNabb said the min­is­ter’s stance left Fergusson St in some­what of a pickle as the re­al­ity of gaps in the town­scape ap­peared in­evitable.

The Gov­ern­ment has an­tic­i­pated this, giv­ing it­self the power to de­mol­ish any build­ing left un­strength­ened and re­cover the costs from the owner.


Kerry Gra­cie, owner of Gra­cies cloth­ing store and ad­vo­cate for the busi­ness own­ers’ Earth­quake Prone Build­ings Fo­cus Group.

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