Castle joins quake risk building list

NOT SO SOLID: The castle at Lions Playground
NOT SO SOLID: The castle at Lions Playground

A playground castle at Tahunanui Beach has been added to the list of Nelson City Council-owned buildings and structures identified as potentially earthquake damage-prone, and will need more detailed assessment.

The results of what will be a long-term project will require decisions by the council on whether to strengthen or demolish structures.

The latest list of nine follows an earlier release of council buildings assessed as potentially earthquake damage-prone following initial assessments, including the previously occupied Hunting and Fishing building and Hunter Furniture.

Council-owned buildings which so far have been further assessed and identified as needing to be strengthened or demolished include the brick facade of Riverside Pool; the building occupied by Prego Mediterranean Foods in Halifax St; the Refinery Gallery in Halifax St; the Bata building (formerly occupied by The Hub); and the State Advances building next to Civic House.

The council said a major programme to evaluate the earthquake risk of about 100 buildings and 40 other facilities it owned, such as toilets, sheds and bridges, was progressing well.

It has engaged three consultant structural engineers to carry out initial evaluations of its buildings and structures.

The council said last week it was having difficulty attracting a structural engineer to carry out secondary assessments of privately owned buildings considered earthquake damage-prone.

The delay was causing a backlog of work and threatened to hold up sales and lease transactions on commercial properties.

The council said the latest assessment of properties it owned had revealed the further nine buildings as potentially earthquake damage-prone following initial structural assessments (below 33 per cent of the New Building Standard). More detailed evaluation work would be required before a final rating could be made.

Infrastructure portfolio holder, councillor Gail Collingwood, said the buildings offered no new earthquake risk just because the evaluations had been made.

"Initial evaluations are simply a tabletop assessment by a structural engineer that let us know whether more investigations are required.

"We're making sure tenants and users are well informed of the status of any of our buildings that are potentially earthquake-prone, and signs are being placed on the relevant buildings," Mrs Collingwood said.

She said that given the many council buildings involved and the significant costs associated with earthquake evaluations and potential strengthening work, a staged approach was needed.

"This is a long-term project that will take many years to complete."

A budget of $200,000 was allocated this year through the council's long-term plan, and more funding could be needed in next year's annual plan to complete the initial evaluations.

Funding will also be required to start detailed evaluations, which will determine potential strengthening work to bring earthquake damage-prone buildings up to 67 per cent of the New Building Standard, according to the council's Earthquake Prone, Dangerous and Insanitary Building Policy.

A report on each building that is declared earthquake damage-prone by the council's building unit and issued with a section 124 notice will be presented to the council for a final decision.