Developer seeks rates penalties for building owners

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 13:42 29/05/2012

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Rates penalties for building owners who refuse to earthquake strengthen their buildings should be introduced, a Wellington property developer says.

Ian Cassels, speaking on behalf of the New Zealand Property Council, addressed the Wellington City Council today as part of hearings for its draft long-term plan.

Among the most pressing concerns was earthquake strengthening, he said.

The city had to learn lessons from the Christchurch experience, and take steps to stop the central city becoming a ''wasteland'' in the event of a major earthquake, by introducing rates penalties and rebates for properties that need strengthening.

''I'm not talking about vast amounts of money, I'm talking about a vast amount of commitment. We need to commit to doubling the rates on people that don't comply, and halving the rates on people that do comply.''

In particular, Cuba St, which houses many earthquake-prone buildings had to be looked at through a ''Cuba St project''.

While the move was likely to be unpopular it needed ''vigour'', he said.

Asked by councillor Iona Pannett about the importance of preserving heritage buildings, he said retaining the buildings would be preferable, but some buildings might need to be prioritised over others.

''We love the buildings we own and we'd like to save them all, but if you can't, you can't.''

The submissions are continuing today and tomorrow before adjourning until Tuesday next week.

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