Earthquake-prone buildings priority area adopted for Levin

Published on 14 March 2019

Priority Buildings – Earthquake Prone Buildings.

An earthquake-prone buildings priority area has been adopted for Levin following a decision at last night’s Horowhenua District Council meeting, while Foxton and Shannon will have no priority areas.

The priority area for Levin will cover the central business district, including Oxford Street from Devon Street to Levin Adventure Park, part of Queen Street, and part of Salisbury Street.

Group Manager Customer & Regulatory Services Ian McLachlan said priority areas are significant because, under the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016, earthquake-prone buildings in these areas must be identified and strengthened or demolished in half the time allowed for buildings in non-priority areas.

“The intent is to ensure that areas where there is a greater risk to public safety during and after an earthquake are prioritised for work before other buildings,” Mr McLachlan said.

“Owners of buildings deemed as earthquake-prone in the extended priority area in Levin will have 7.5 years to strengthen or demolish them, compared with 15 years for those in non-priority areas.”

Priority areas are busy roads or footpaths where falling masonry from buildings damaged in an earthquake would pose a high risk to life and public safety. Buildings located in these areas will be designated as priority buildings under the Act.

Buildings in priority areas are not automatically deemed earthquake-prone. Horowhenua District Council has 2.5 years to identify earthquake-prone buildings in priority areas as part of its responsibilities under the Act.

Mr McLachlan said the decision about which areas should be designated as priority areas was based on local knowledge and input from the community during consultation carried out in 2018.

Council’s Hearings Committee deliberated on public submissions in June last year and recommended extending the priority area for Levin and having no priority areas in Foxton and Shannon. The recommendation was tabled until a report from the Minister of Building and Construction became available.

“Although Council has not yet received the official report, we have obligations under the Act to identify earthquake-prone buildings, issue earthquake-prone building notices and enforce timeframes for owners to strengthen or demolish earthquake-prone buildings. These processes take time, and we are committed to providing education for owners in a complimentary manner as we implement the Act,” said Mr McLachlan.