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Thousands of quake-prone buildings identified by Govt

Friday 7 Dec 2012 10:45 a.m.

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The Government estimates there are as many as 25,000 earthquake-prone buildings around New Zealand, and could require all to be strengthened or demolished within 15 years.

The details are contained in a Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission report, and consultation document, released this morning.

Part four of the Royal Commission covers a range of practice and policy issues relating to earthquake-prone buildings.

The report makes 36 recommendations, and includes an estimate that there are between 15,000 to 25,000 earthquake-prone buildings around New Zealand, which equates to 8-13 % of all non-residential buildings.

"The recommendations contained in the Royal Commission's report could have significant economic implications for those building owners," says Minister for Building and Construction, Maurice Williamson.

"One of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission in Volume 4 is that all existing buildings are seismically assessed and the information as to whether a building is above or below the earthquake building threshold is made easily available to the public," Mr Williamson says.

A Government consultation document also released today suggests all earthquake-prone buildings be strengthened, or demolished, within 15 years after changes take effect. That would allow 5 years for local authorities to complete seismic assessments, followed by 10 years for owners to either strengthen or demolish their building. Currently building owners have an average of 28 years to bring their building up to standard.

Despite identifying a large number of at risk buildings, the current national earthquake prone building standard, which requires existing buildings to be at 33 percent of new building seismic safety, will not be changed.

"We must ensure that the earthquake prone buildings policy system strikes an acceptable balance between protecting people from serious harm, and managing the significant economic implications of strengthening or removing the most vulnerable buildings," Mr Williamson says.

No final decisions about the recommendations will made until consultation has been completed.

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