ZB

Heritage issues could face Wellington building owners carrying out urgent reinforcing work

Author
Georgia Nelson,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Jan 2017, 5:34am
The Reading Cinema car park in Wellington had to be torn down after it was damaged in the November 14 quake last year. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Heritage issues could face Wellington building owners carrying out urgent reinforcing work

Author
Georgia Nelson,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Jan 2017, 5:34am

The Property Council says heritage issues could surface in Wellington as building owners scramble to secure earthquake-risk facades and parapets.

Under the Kaikoura Earthquakes Act, around 300 building owners have 12 months to carry out strengthening work to protect public safety, 250 of those are in Wellington.

Building owners can apply for a 50 percent subsidy for the work from a special $3 million fund.

Around 250 of those buildings are in Wellington.

LISTEN ABOVE: Society for Earthquake Engineering President Peter Smith speaks with Rachel Smalley

Property Council Wellington President Mike Cole said when you strengthen heritage buildings, you have to consider the heritage implications.

He said this isn't intended to damage heritage issues, but this is all about public safety, so some heritage issues might need to be dealt with along the way.

Cuba St, Riddiford St and Jackson St in Wellington's central city have been identified as areas at risk from unsecured facades and parapets in the event of an aftershock.

Society for Earthquake Engineering President Peter Smith said there's a real risk out there and it's about preventing loss of life, as well as the preservation of buildings.

"We will also be looking at preserving some of those precincts, that we value as a city, the Cuba St-type areas, areas we enjoy frequenting, and this initiative will hopefully secure those."

Chamber of Commerce CEO John Milford said the whole process will be challenging but the subsidy is great news.

"We are delighted to be honest. It's action being taken. It's local government and central government working together on an issue that is there and it needs to be fixed.

"[Business owners] are getting 50 per cent of the costs to help support it. I think yes, it may be difficult for some but I think building owners are responsible people. They want to do the right thing and I think they will support this action."

Mr Cole said he's owns a building in Cuba Street that will need work done and although the timeframe is tight, it's not unreasonable.

"We live in an earthquake-prone country and I think it's just something that needs to be done. This isn't about strengthening the buildings in entirety, it's just a public safety issue with the parapets and facades."

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said most building owners have been great following the earthquake, but there are still some with work to do.

"This will enable them to undertake that work, to do it safely, to do it cost effectively and to do it very quickly as well, in 12 months time."

Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson thinks everyone in the city would like to see the work done as soon as possible, and in fact would have liked to have seen it done by now.

"The issue's always been the up-front cost is very high for the building owners. What's been announced at least means they'll get some support in getting that done. I'm sure for many people in Wellington it will feel like this should have been done a few years ago, but it is good that it's happening now."