Cera still finding unsafe buildings

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

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More than 200 Canterbury buildings have been closed by the Government because they are too dangerous to occupy.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) programme has resulted in 208 of the 1283 buildings evaluated being shut because of quake damage.

Under the detailed engineering evaluations (DEEs) scheme, all commercial buildings and residential buildings of two or more storeys and containing three or more household units are being assessed.

A section 45 notice (yellow or red sticker) had been issued against 167 buildings and another 41 required demolition.

Of the 1347 DEEs requested by Cera, 558 had been returned. A further 725 had been submitted proactively by building owners.

Cera operations deputy general manager Baden Ewart said in May that engineers could be recruited to fast track the more than 6500 buildings needing to be checked.

However, a Cera spokeswoman said additional engineers had not been needed.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said the DEE process was "moving along well".

"Even 21 months on, we are still discovering the extent of the damage caused to buildings by the earthquakes.

"Visually, buildings may appear to be sound. However, it is only upon further detailed investigation that the extent to which the building is compromised can be revealed."

Sutton was pleased building owners were proactively submitting evaluations.

Labour earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel welcomed the assessment of buildings, but said more could be done to help businesses remain open.

The sudden closure last week of a block of shops in South New Brighton, which shocked business owners, was a common occurrence since the DEE process began, she said.

"My experience with business owners, who have been caught on the hop by sudden revelations that some element of their building is under code, is that it has actually left people absolutely devastated.

"Instead of engineers being used to establish how to quickly restore a building to code, it's a question of ‘Close it down and ask questions later'," she said. "I don't think that is helpful to the city's recovery."

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- The Press

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