Earthquake-prone buildings

Council is working with building owners, tenants and the community to upgrade earthquake-prone buildings, retain buildings with heritage value, and ensure the city centre remains commercially viable.

Image shows aerial views of buildings at a cross of two roads.

Support for building owners

Contact Council if you own an earthquake-prone building and are thinking about undertaking seismic strengthening.

A number of earthquake-prone buildings in Palmerston North are also classified as heritage buildings. Grant funding and support is available for technical reports, engineering assessment and physical works.

Council owns some earthquake-prone buildings

We also own several buildings which have been assessed as earthquake-prone. These buildings are scattered across Palmy, and by law, need to be remedied within the next 15 years (by 2037).

These buildings have been assessed and aren’t deemed dangerous so they can continue to be used like they are now. We are working alongside the operators and tenants of each building to determine solutions and prioritise the order of work to be completed over the next 7.5 to 15 years.

You’ll know if a building is earthquake-prone

Notices and stickers legally need to be put up and clearly visible at all main entrances of earthquake-prone buildings. They have the earthquake rating for the building and the date that either strengthening or solution work must be completed by.

Classifying seismic and building risk

Commercial, publicly accessible, or multi-story residential buildings may be subject to the earthquake-prone building requirements.

The requirements are set out in the New Zealand Building Act 2004 and subsequent amendments. These include responsibilities for building owners and for Councils.

Lots of risk factors help predict what may happen to a building in an earthquake. These include its age, size, shape and construction materials. Structural engineering standards have changed over time. Older buildings do not have the same resilience in an earthquake.

This initial evaluation procedure or IEP grades each building to indicate its strength. This is shown as the percentage of the new building standard it achieves. Earthquake-prone buildings are those classified as less than 34% of the current standard for an equivalent building. 

Priority routes

Priority routes are busy roads or footpaths where falling masonry from buildings damaged in an earthquake would pose a high risk to life and public safety. The owners of unreinforced masonry buildings located on priority routes will have a shorter timeframe to make their buildings safe: seven-and-a-half years instead of 15 years.

The streets below have been identified as priority routes for Palmerston North.

City centre streets

  • The Square
  • Church Street between Linton Street and Princess Street
  • Broadway Avenue between Rangitikei Street and Princess Street
  • George Street
  • Coleman Mall
  • Cuba Street between Lombard Street and Rangitikei Street
  • Rangitikei Street between The Square and Queen Street
  • Berrymans Lane
  • Regent Arcade
  • Fitzherbert Avenue between The Square and 38 Fitzherbert Avenue
  • Maple Lane
  • Main Street between The Square and Maple Lane
  • Queen Street from Rangitikei Street and 29 Queen Street

Locations outside the city centre

  • Rangitikei Street between Walding Street and 165 Rangitikei Street
  • Broadway Avenue outside 262-264 Broadway Avenue
  • Main Street (footpath and northern lane) between David Street and Domain Street

For more information, please email or phone 06 356 8199