Buildings to reopen as rules relaxed

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013

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Some council buildings closed after being deemed earthquake-prone could reopen next year as city officials contemplate relaxing a policy one councillor says is "incredibly conservative".

The Christchurch City Council recess committee yesterday agreed 21 buildings and facilities - mainly pavilions and toilet blocks - should reopen despite all falling below the quake-prone threshold of 34 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS).

The group, chaired by Mayor Lianne Dalziel, also agreed the council's quake-prone building policy should be reviewed early next year and that NBS percentages should not be the only factor in deciding a building's fate.

Council community committee chairman Yani Johanson said the council's policy was "incredibly conservative" and could see more buildings shut than open.

"That would be a disaster," he said.

New Government rules mean building owners need to strengthen their properties to 34 per cent of NBS and councils need to assess the seismic performance of all non-residential and multi-unit and multi-storey residential buildings within five years.

After those assessments, any quake-prone buildings need to be either strengthened or demolished within 15 years.

Johanson said the council's policy should be more in line with the Government's stance.

The council's quake-prone buildings policy requires buildings to be strengthened to 67 per cent of the NBS.

Dalziel and council staff agreed the NBS threshold should be just one factor considered when deciding if a building reopens.

Acting council chief executive Michael Aitken said many older buildings, while falling short of the 34 per cent benchmark, had no public risk.

One of the soon to be reopened facilities, a dairy unit on the Styx River esplanade reserve, only met seven per cent of NBS but Aitken said it did not pose a "brittle collapse risk".

A report from staff who inspected many greenspace buildings identified buildings that should be exempt from the policy "on the basis that they are not considered dangerous to occupy".

Dalziel said engineering evaluations of buildings were "just part of the overall judgment" on whether a building should reopen.

Staff agreed the 21 buildings could be opened until "a more permanent strengthening or replacement solution" was found.

Dalziel said she took "great comfort" from the staff advice.

Some buildings could be re-opened because many posed no undue public risk.

"That has got to be good for the people of Christchurch," Dalziel said.

Johanson said keeping strictly to the NBS threshold was not always the "sensible approach".

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The committee agreed the policy be reviewed and staff will present a report to the council's earthquake recovery committee in February.

BELOW STANDARD

Council buildings recommended to re-open under the New Building Standard (NBS) threshold of 34 per cent.

Amenities buildings at Harewood Nursery (29 per cent of NBS);

Barn at Heritage Park, Little River (15 per cent);

Dairy unit at Styx River esplanade reserve (7 per cent);

Double garage and carport at Styx River reserve living laboratory (24 per cent);

House (pony house) at Sumnervale Reserve (19 per cent);

Pavilion/toilets at Hoon Hay Park (19 per cent);

Bromley Park (21 per cent);

Malvern Park (20 per cent);

Somerfield Park (32 per cent);

Pavilion at Hillsborough Domain (23 per cent);

Macfarlane Park (29 per cent);

Pavilion/shelter(polo) at Hagley Park South (17 per cent);

Shed at Wycola Park (20 per cent);

Shed/office/toilet at Waimairi Cemetery (11 per cent);

Three-bay garage at Hagley Park North (21 per cent);

Toilets at Edmonds Garden (11 per cent);

Macfarlane Park (29 per cent);

Purau Recreation Ground (25 per cent);

Toilets/shelter at Memorial Park cemetery (29 per cent);

Toilet/changing rooms at Broad Park (12 per cent)

Source: Christchurch City Council.


- The Press

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