Earthquake-prone buildings identified

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At least 45 buildings in the Queenstown-Lakes District have been labelled as potentially earthquake prone.

The district council today announced it would start contacting building owners, with letters being sent asking for evidence that their building has either been strengthened to at least 34% of the new building standard or that it is outside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s profiling categories.

Council building services manager Chris English said earthquakes in Kaikoura and Christchurch had highlighted the need for further safety measures.

“Public safety is paramount and to take steps to ensure this, we’ve now completed a high-level assessment of all building stock within the district and identified a list of potentially vulnerable buildings.”

He said the number of potentially earthquake prone buildings was “comparably small” compared to other cities and towns.

“With the amount of development that has occurred throughout the Queenstown Lakes District many older unreinforced masonry buildings have either been replaced or strengthened already.”

Building owners will be asked to supply information about their buildings within six weeks of receiving the letter.

“If evidence cannot be supplied, owners will receive a formal notice asking for either an Initial Seismic Assessment or a Detailed Seismic Assessment,” Mr English said.

“We will also be seeking formal feedback from the public in early 2019 about the list of buildings and thoroughfares which have been categorised as priority or high risk.”

Details on the public consultation process will be available soon, the council said.

One building in the district already under scrutiny is the Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown.

Mountain Scene reported earlier this year the old bank and stables beside the museum, where some of its collection is housed, is earthquake-prone.

A conservation plan and earthquake strengthening plan have been finished, and work is underway to determine the exact cost of the upgrade to the category 2 heritage building.

Museum boss David Clarke says it will likely cost at least $1.5 million.