News, Events and Culture

Earthquake Prone Building List procedural error

Thursday April 10 2014

The Earthquake Prone Building List comprises mostly of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings in the city centre and the buildings listed are below 33 per cent of what is required for new buildings. The Building Act 2004 defines buildings below 33 per cent of code as earthquake-prone and having greater risk of collapse in a moderate earthquake.

Buildings are added to the list after an initial conservative assessment is carried out by a consulting engineer on behalf of the Council. It is updated every few months as more buildings in the city are assessed.

Peter Eathorne, general manager Customer Services, says while the buildings uploaded to the list have been assessed as Earthquake Prone by a qualified independent structural engineer, Council staff omitted to alert the building's owners to the results of the assessment.

"Palmerston North City Council is one of only a few Councils in New Zealand to have a public Earthquake Prone Building List. The decision to do so was based on the public's right to know and is something we're proud of," says Peter.

Council's internal procedure is to write to the building owner(s) explaining Council's process, supply a copy of the building assessment and provide the building owner(s) with a one month grace period. This is to allow the owner(s) the opportunity to obtain an independent report from a qualified structural Engineer, or communicate an acceptance of the Council assessment.

After that period of grace the Council uploads the information to the Earthquake Prone Building List.

"I sincerely apologise to the owners of the five buildings identified earlier this week as earthquake prone. We have since removed them from the list on Council's website and I have personally rung the building owners and apologised."

The building owners now have one month to respond to the assessment before they are uploaded to the list.

Peter Eathorne says the procedure has been looked at and a system improvement has been implemented to ensure this unfortunate error will not be repeated.

The full list can be found here.