Buildings added to quake register

Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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Three buildings are now on the Timaru District Council's earthquake-prone buildings register, with two being added in the last six months.

The council has refused to identify the buildings, citing privacy issues, although an earlier list was released to The Herald after an Official Information Act request.

While there are three on the list, the council still has no idea how many properties district-wide did not meet the required structural strength and would need to be upgraded or demolished, council's regulatory services manager Chris English said.

Eighteen months ago the register contained 23 buildings of which 19 had been upgraded to at least the minimum seismic requirements and the remaining four were being upgraded.

Properties were added to the register when the owner had applied to carry out significant work on them, the building was undergoing a change of use, or someone had contacted the council concerned about the building's safety.

Those on the register at present had come to council attention as the owners had applied for building consents.

If building officials considered the building was potentially earthquake prone, they look at matters including the value of the work being undertaken and whether it was greater than 25 per cent of the building's value, and the use the building would be put to.

Other calculations assess the likely structural strength of a building. If it was less than 33 per cent of the present structural requirements for new buildings, staff discussed the upgrading work required with the owner and a timeframe for it to be carried out.

If a building was assessed as earthquake-prone, it was the owner's responsibility to provide a structural engineer's report, at their cost.

About 20 buildings in South Canterbury have been closed or demolished due to earthquake damage or concerns over their structural strength.

The majority of the buildings now closed are churches. Many congregations chose to close their doors because their building did not meet the minimum structural strength requirements. The century-old Temuka Presbyterian church has been demolished while major repairs required to the Church of the Holy Innocents at Peel Forest are yet to begin.

Other churches are awaiting repairs or decisions on their fate.

The ANZ Bank's branches in Temuka, Waimate and Geraldine closed yesterday.

The bank had seismic assessments carried out on all the buildings it leases around the country, with the three local branches being found wanting.

The Geraldine and Temuka branches will reopen in temporary premises.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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