'One size fits all' approach opposed on building law

21:36, Apr 16 2014

Southern councils are telling the government not to "tar everybody with the same brush", in a joint submission on the proposed Building Amendment Bill.

Southland District councillors yesterday approved the submission on the Building (Earthquake Prone) Amendment Bill at a meeting on Stewart Island.

Submissions on the bill close today.

Southland District Council spokesman Bruce Halligan said the submission, to be signed by 13 southern councils, asked the government to let councils set some of their own rules rather than take a "one size fits all" approach.

"We are trying to get collective traction with central government . . . there are about 380,000 residents within the area [represented by the councils]."

Under the proposed rules, rural and regional communities would be hit with a disproportionate amount of the costs of carrying out seismic assessments on buildings, because they were the communities with more heritage and old buildings, Halligan said.

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"We've asked for the bill to be less ‘one size fits all' . . . [and to] let councils set some of their own rules.

"Under the current rules, council must do all the assessing.

"What we're saying is, maybe don't tar everybody with the same brush."

The cost of a building seismic assessment could be about $2500, which meant some councils might have to spend millions, he said.

The submission requests that a new rule be included to allow councils to force building owners to cover costs, or to allow councils to recover some of the assessment costs from building owners.

"I think there could be some option of co-funding assessments between council and building owners," Halligan said.

The council was provided with a report on some council-owned buildings in the district that had already been assessed.

The assessments identified three buildings that did not meet the 34 per cent minimum new building standard.

The Wyndham museum was rated 30 per cent, the Wyndham hall 5 per cent, and the Otautau hall 30 per cent for the front portion of the hall and 18 per cent for the auditorium.

The Wyndham library and Otautau hall are closed.

Councillors agreed to notify users of buildings that were still open but which did not meet seismic rating standards.

 

The Southland Times