Earthquake risk buildings added to list

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 20/12/2013

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Ten privately-owned Palmerston North buildings have been added to the city council's Earthquake Prone Building List that now includes 143 places.

They are the old police station; the First Church of Christ, Scientist; and the Club Hotel, all in Church St; a portion deep inside The Plaza, the Commerce, HL Young and Master Bakery buildings in Broadway Ave, Lincoln Automatics in Taonui St, Westside Chambers on The Square, and the Goodman Building in Rangitikei St.

None of them are listed as heritage buildings in the District Plan, but the old police station carries a category two registration with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust on the strength of its classical style and distinctive kowhaiwhai pattern near the roof.

The 1938 building has been empty since 2005, and is owned and managed by the Office of Treaty Settlements pending the outcome of treaty negotiations with Rangitane O Manawatu.

When the Palmerston North City Council released its initial list of Earthquake Prone Buildings last year, 400 other buildings were put on a priority list for assessments based on high public use or their significance for emergency services.

The buildings are progressively being assessed in a process expected to take up to four years to complete.

City council customer services general manager Peter Eathorne said most of the buildings were constructed with unreinforced masonry and were in the city centre.

Those that make it on to the list are assessed as not meeting a standard that is 33 per cent of what is required for new buildings, and they are at risk of collapse in a moderate earthquake.

Buildings are added to the list after an initial conservative assessment has been carried out by a consulting engineer on behalf of the council. It is updated every few months as more buildings in the city are assessed.

Mr Eathorne said the next step for the owners of the buildings on the list was to carry out their own structural integrity assessment or start planning for a strengthening programme.

The city council's heritage fund provides small grants to help pay for engineering reports for buildings listed in the District Plan for their heritage value.

Successful applications to the fund this year have been made to help with the Andrews Building in George St, Ward Brothers Building in Cuba St, and The Grand Hotel on The Square.

Since the original earthquake-prone buildings list was compiled, several owners have provided structural engineering reports showing their buildings comply, such as the Beattie and Proudet Plumbers building in Cuba St, which has been removed from the latest list. Others have carried out work to ensure their buildings meet the code, such as the Bryants building on the corner of The Square and Church St, but it has not yet been removed.

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The full list can be viewed at pncc.govt.nz

- Manawatu Standard

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