Stratford reels at quake proposals

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2013
tdn neil stand
ANDY JACKSON
Stratford mayor Neil Volzke

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Stratford's town centre could crumble under the weight of an earthquake strengthening proposal.

At yesterday's Stratford District Council meeting, community and environmental services director Mike Avery said the town's main street would be littered with abandoned buildings if new government guidelines became law.

Under the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment plan, all non-residential and multi-storey residential buildings would require a seismic assessment to be carried out within five years.

Owners of those judged to be earthquake-prone would then have up to 10 years to either strengthen them or pull them down.

Mr Avery said he didn't support the proposal at any level.

"There is very little thought given in the policy to enforcement of it at the end of the process," he said.

"In Stratford, you would see the end of Broadway as we know it.

"There are only half a dozen buildings that would survive and it is doubtful the cash flows are there to warrant the rebuilding of the rest of it."

Mayor Neil Volzke agreed the proposal could be catastrophic.

He said there was neither the money nor the expertise to assess and strengthen all of the earthquake-prone buildings in the time frame.

"This whole thing has been described as the earthquake we have when we don't actually have an earthquake," he said.

"You will effectively bowl every building in some provincial towns and cities in New Zealand. The cost would be astronomical."

The proposal, which was put forward in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes royal commission, was released for debate last year.

Mr Avery said if the proposals were passed in their current form it would have serious implications for the rural community as well.

"Cost for assessments have varied from $1500 to $3000.

"It's an horrendous cost."

The council will put forward a submission to the Ministry before the March 8 cut off date.

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