Parliament’s local government & environment committee has issued an interim report on the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill and is seeking feedback from previous submitters, closing on Thursday 16 July.
The bill’s intention, amending the Building Act, is to enforce national timeframes & procedures for addressing earthquake-prone buildings, “to balance the protection of citizens from earthquake-prone buildings, the cost of strengthening, upgrading or demolishing buildings, and the protection of heritage buildings”.
The committee said the proposed changes would significantly alter the version of the bill initially released. It wants submissions on:
- The timeframes for the identification & remediation of earthquake-prone buildings to be based on the seismic risk of the area, and with reference to Z factors
- Reducing the scope of buildings to be covered by the bill, such as excluding farm buildings, bridges & tunnels, and whether to include only buildings determined as earthquake-prone on the public register (instead of all buildings) & their earthquake rating
- The prioritisation of certain buildings in areas of medium & high seismic risk. These buildings would include hospitals, schools & emergency response facilities. The applicable timeframe would be halved for the identification & remediation of these buildings
- A proposed new section 133AX(2), relating to disability access & fire safety, which would require the upgrade of earthquake-prone buildings when substantial alterations are being undertaken. Criteria for assessing whether an alteration is substantial would be set out in regulations.
The committee said 26 submitters suggested alternative approaches for managing earthquake-prone buildings than the system set out in the bill. 5 of them said the market was repricing the risk posed by earthquakes and there was no need to regulate to ensure the remediation of earthquake-prone buildings.
Several raised concerns about the way the bill takes local factors into account, often by asserting it takes a ‘one size fits all’ approach. 21 submitters said the bill needed to provide for more local decision-making.
11 territorial authorities&d the Waikato Mayoral Forum wanted more local discretion & flexibility within a framework set by central government, accompanied by greater central government support & guidance.
6 submitters (the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust & 5 territorial authorities) suggested that earthquake-prone buildings should be managed at a regional level, and 3 (the Local Government Forum, Federated Farmers & the Gore District Council) suggested retaining the current system of only local decision-making when managing earthquake-prone buildings.
Attribution: Parliamentary release.