Council may reopen closed buildings

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014

Relevant offers

Christchurch Earthquake 2011

Councils can't force seismic strengthening, court says Christchurch quake memorial plans revealed Limited space for Christmas cheer in caravan Dyers Pass Rd reopens Desperate woman in EQC limbo Resilience plan may risk too much talking Teen's quake piece to have abbey debut 'Jerky' quake rattles Canterbury The art of urban exploration Flashes expose quake-building intruders

Some closed council buildings could be reopened if Christchurch City councillors follow through on plans to relax the rules on occupancy.

Since December 2011 it has been council policy to close any non-residential facilities in its ownership that fall below 34 per cent of New Building Standard (NBS).

About 236 buildings have been closed as a result of that policy.

A report went to the previous council in December 2012 that sought to get that policy changed amid concern that some of those buildings had been closed unnecessarily as they posed little danger, but the council was unwilling to alter the policy at that time.

Last year the council did agree to exempt about 27 buildings - mainly old wooden community halls, toilets, sheds and sports pavilions - from the policy so that they could be reopened.

A new report prepared by council staff recommends that the council rescind the previous policy and put in place a new framework for deciding whether a building is safe to occupy.

Under the proposed framework, a building that has not suffered significant damage and does not contain a brittle collapse mechanism could be occupied without restriction even if it fell below 34 per cent of NBS, provided engineers were satisfied it was fit to occupy.

The report, presented to the council's earthquake recovery committee-of-the-whole yesterday, said that since the original policy was put in place the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Mbie) and Worksafe New Zealand had released guidance for assessing the seismic strength of buildings.

That guidance suggested the council's current occupation policy was "quite conservative".

Analysis of the detailed engineering evaluations done on council buildings had revealed a number of the buildings closed under the current policy might not have needed to be closed under the guidance from Mbie and Worksafe NZ.

"It may appear prudent to set a high cut-off or threshold for occupancy, however, this will result in more buildings being closed than may be necessary. Closed buildings incur disruption to the community and costs in providing temporary levels of service," the report said.

It also noted that latest information from GNS Science showed the likelihood of large aftershocks was dropping.

When asked at yesterday's committee meeting how many buildings were likely to be affected by the proposed policy revision, council facilities rebuild manager Darren Moses said: "I can't give you a number yet but there are possibly closed buildings that could be reopened."

Ad Feedback

The committee voted unanimously to proceed with the policy change but its decision still needs to be ratified by the full council.

Once that happens later this month council staff will review the condition of all closed buildings to see whether any can be reopened under the new framework.

- The Press

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Is it worth spending extra to repair heritage buildings?

Yes, Christchurch needs to invest in its heritage buildings

No, we should embrace modern design if it is cheaper and quicker

Only some heritage buildings are worth the money

Vote Result

Related story: Landmark church nearly $1m short

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content