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Seismic strengthening options 'radical' – Townsend

“Hugely radical” is how Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend describes proposed new earthquake standards.

The options are contained in a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment consultation document released today.

The Property Council has been closely involved in formulating the proposals.

Mr Townsend says the “dramatic” changes involve centralising standards under the government rather than allowing local authorities to set their own.

The other major change was a proposal to apply some of them to residential properties.

He says there is variation even between Napier and Hastings councils on seismic strengthening.

Christchurch has adopted requirements for buildings to be 67% of the building code.

But the proposed national standards would only require 33%.

It would bankrupt the country to set them up to 67%, he says. Even so, the exact number of buildings requiring strengthening or demolition is unclear.

The report cites 25,000 buildings involved and a cost of $1.68 billion. But Tauranga has yet to be included, according to Mr Townsend.

Features such as chimneys and parapets were big concerns for older residential homes, he says.

“If it wasn’t for the first September 2010 earthquake that brought down so many chimneys in Christchurch there would have been mayhem in the February earthquake, which was bigger as far as the city was concerned.

“There’s a lot of naivety outside of Christchurch about this,” Mr Townsend says.

The government proposals allow five years to identify buildings and another 10 years to fix or demolish them.

c.hutch@clear.net.nz

More by Chris Hutching

Comments and questions

Surely the big gap is for residential apartment buildings? Commercial office space needs to meet the standard, but if the same building is used for residential use it doesnt have to meet the same standard?

Read the document, multi storey apartment buildings have always been included with commercial building requirements to meet earthquake standards

What do you think we should do? Ignore the inadequacies and wait for the next big shake and see thousands of bodies on the streets?

Talk sense for Pete's sake.

Sense is recognising the chances of another earthquake event like Christchurch. Very, very unlikely.

Society can not insure for everything. There are far bigger enemies for society than earthquakes. Alcohol, smoking, global warming and environmental pollution. Far more people die from the effects of these, yet the authorities are doing very little to police these.

While my thoughts have been for those family and friends who lost lived ones in the earthquake, this has been a massive overreaction by government. I suspect this is all driven by the need to capture votes.

Politicians are good like that. They love spending other peoples money, regardless of it making sense or not.

If government want to do anything good for the people of New Zealand, they should set up Kiwi Insurance. Our economy is currently being rorted badly by the greedy overseas insurance cartels.

Agreed. Why aren't such topics discussed more often? - but, of course, there is no chance of public discussion being acted on under our current version of "democracy"! The idea of our "free-market" government "suggesting" that the Christchurch City Council should sell profitable businesses to subsidise the building of another "white elephant" arena beggars belief. What a pity we hadn't established sensible building codes before the earthquake, or, indeed, before buildings suddenly started "leaking" after 4,000 years of building dry ones!. We must, however, forgive the Government and its agencies (viz the Earthquake Commission), for having no idea what to in the case of an actual earthquake.

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