Building owners urged to act now after quake
Feilding heritage building owners have been told that now is the time to start assessment work on buildings at risk of earthquake damage.
About 70 building owners, as well as Manawatu district councillors, met last night to hear advice from New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering executive Win Clark and Historic Places Trust central region co-ordinator David Watt about how best to protect heritage buildings.
"There's no better time than now to start that process – and it really is a process – to determine the issues with your building and where it can be improved to give a better performance in a seismic event in your area," Mr Clark said.
The heritage building strengthening consultant gave a graphic presentation that demonstrated the damage to Christchurch's historic structures, highlighting buildings that had survived and the methods used to strengthen them.
"Earthquakes are great at finding poor workmanship," he said, before showingpictures of the heritage building that houses Lyttelton Fire Station, which suffered only minor damage.
"That building was right on top of the earthquake on the 22nd of February and it survived."
Manawatu Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said councillors felt privileged to have listened to Mr Clark's insights. "I think he's provided us with a range of options for strengthening which people might not have been aware of up until now. He's also very mindful of the situation that faces territorial authorities and the building owners to get the process right," she said.
Council reports, which had said that many heritage buildings in Feilding were at risk of earthquake damage, had not provided owners with details of structural issues.
The next step for owners, said Mr Clark, was to find engineers to get those reports and await the outcome of the the Canterbury earthquakes royal commission for directions on how to fund work and negotiate time frames.
Mr Watt said heritage buildings made up only 1 per cent of New Zealand's entire building stock, and they were worth protecting.
Owners raised issues about the time frames set by council authorities for the work and whether it was possible to spread costs by engaging one engineer to oversee entire blocks of mixed-ownership buildings with shared walls.
Feilding Promotion manager Helen Worboys, who chaired the meeting, said the experts' insight had given building owners and councillors alike food for thought.
Feilding Promotion chairman Michael Ford said it would continue to represent building owners by lobbying the council for an improved time frame in which to strengthen or demolish buildings assessed as earthquake-prone.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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