Dangerous awnings and verandas in suburban Wellington cause quake concern

A bylaw, introduced in 2015 to get owners of faulty verandas over public space to repair them, identified about 900 ...
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

A bylaw, introduced in 2015 to get owners of faulty verandas over public space to repair them, identified about 900 applicable spots around Wellington, including in Riddiford St, Newtown (pictured).

Hazardous verandas continue to perch above Wellingtonians' heads more than two years after a bylaw was introduced to address the problem.

Stuff has seen balcony supports in the suburb of Newtown all but rusted through with makeshift splints supporting upright poles along the main street.

Wellington City Council building resilience manager Stephen Cody said the bylaw, introduced in 2015 to get owners of faulty verandas in public spaces to repair them, identified about 900 applicable spots across Wellington.

Resident Don McDonald is concerned at the state of some of Newtown's rusted and decrepit verandas and awnings, fearing ...
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Resident Don McDonald is concerned at the state of some of Newtown's rusted and decrepit verandas and awnings, fearing someone could be injured or killed if one collapsed.

Of those, 225 were seen as defective in some way, ranging from a leak to structural damage, and 45 needed urgent action.

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There were still 20 on the urgent list, while about 500 of the original 900 did not need further action.

A plastic piping splint on a decrepit Rintoul St awning.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

A plastic piping splint on a decrepit Rintoul St awning.

"It ebbs and flows. We take some off the list and we put others on as they come to our attention," Cody said.

Most building owners had been proactive about getting the work done, though some had struggled to find engineers and builders to do it.

But some lackadaisical owners were only spurred into action when council staff pointed out the bylaw allowed the council to take building owners to court to force them to do the work. No legal action had yet been required, Cody said.

A rusted veranda pole on Riddiford St.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

A rusted veranda pole on Riddiford St.

Others had been "a little obtuse" by saying they had an engineer looking at the issue, but when the council followed up it found owners had talked to an engineer but never engaged with them.

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Newtown resident Don McDonald said the roofs of the verandas moved in strong winds and he believed people could be injured or killed by a falling veranda in a big earthquake.

"If you lean against that pole [outside one Newtown shop] it will come down in a heap ... I have bad thoughts about it," he said.

Wellington city councillor Iona Pannett said she agreed with McDonald that some balconies continued to be a danger.

"We are being proactive on this and it needs to be sorted. That's why we put the bylaw in and we expect owners will comply with it."

Newtown landlord Peter Noble, who owns multiple properties along the shopping strip, said while he agreed "100 per cent" the structures needed to be safe, there were other issues at play.

While he had already secured awnings and verandas on some of his properties, the process could be complicated by factors like earthquake damage and the time it took to get engineer's reports and builders to do work.

Another issue was that poles on the busy road were prone to being repeatedly hit by delivery trucks.

Some buildings that may have appeared dangerous could also have been structurally cleared by engineers, Noble said.

 - Stuff

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