LGNZ supports a more targeted approach to earthquake-prone buildings policy

10 May 2015

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) welcomes the announcement Minister for Building and Housing, the Hon Dr Nick Smith made today towards a more targeted approach for earthquake-prone buildings.

LGNZ has worked with the Minister on these changes, advocating for variation that reflects earthquake risk across different areas of New Zealand instead of a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach.

The Minister outlined three key approaches, including introducing three seismic zones of risk to categorise New Zealand with specific building strengthening requirements depending on risk.

The second change is targeting education and emergency buildings in high and medium seismic risk areas, and the third is reducing the scope of buildings requiring assessment to those that pose the greatest risk, excluding structures such as farm buildings and retaining walls.  There will also be provisions for exemptions for some low risk, low occupancy buildings such as country halls in parts of rural New Zealand.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says this more targeted approach to assessment and strengthening is supported by the local government sector and is in line with the points of LGNZ’s submission on the Buildings (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill 2013.

“LGNZ has been advocating strongly for a risk-based approach that takes into account wider social and economic impacts alongside life safety.  We have worked with the Minister and central government in developing this new approach,” Mr Yule says.

“However, the financial challenge of upgrading heritage buildings continues to be a challenging issue which requires further consideration and LGNZ looks forward to working with Government to refine the detail around these policies.”

For more information and to read the Minister’s speech, please click here.