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Earthquake-prone places ‘a concern’

Masterton has 79 earthquake-prone buildings, with some needing strengthening work by as early as 2026.

Deputy mayor Bex Johnson said she was worried some property owners may walk away, leaving the council responsible for either fixing or demolishing the building.

Masterton District Council [MDC] recently finished its audit of earthquake-prone building notices and confirmed how many need fixing.

The public register of Masterton’s earthquake-prone buildings includes the Masterton Bowling Club, St Andrews Church on Upper Plain Rd, and St Matthews Church in Church St.

A report to last week’s MDC Infrastructure and Services committee meeting confirmed the district’s registered, affected buildings were now all displaying notices in a prominent place.

The owners must fix their buildings within a given timeframe, so they are no longer earthquake-prone.

“In instances where owners have not fixed their building, the Building Act sets the expectation that the council will remove any danger to building users and the public,” the report said. “Council will incur significant costs to remove potential danger to the public and building users.

“While we can put a charge on the land to recover costs, it’s unlikely full recovery of costs will be achieved.”

Council’s Long Term Plan must include financial provision for the work. Johnson said she was concerned about what might happen if some building owners did not discharge their obligations.

Options for the council include installing hoardings around them, doing the strengthening work itself and recovering the cost from the owner, or starting proceedings to have the building demolished.

“We also know under the Building Act that if those people walk away, council is up for demolition or rebuilding,” Johnson said.

“That really worries me. I’m wondering if we can be proactive with this, not reactive, and whether we are having early conversations with the building owners so that we can perhaps identify those that are going to walk away.”

Johnson said the question could potentially impact ratepayers. Alternatively, it could affect rejuvenation plans for the CBD if some buildings were not going to be there.

“I wonder whether we can have earlier conversations rather than be caught by surprise.”

Steven May, MDC manager of regulatory services, said there was an opportunity to plan.

“We have got a little bit of time, but it’s a short period of time, and we will need that time to develop a policy and a strategy of engagement,” he said.

-NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

1 COMMENT

  1. With costs going up so much over the last few years it wouldn’t surprise me.The previous government and councils have increased cost and are out of control. Labour and greens policies crazy 🤪 having three councils crazy 🤪. A lot of voters created this 😳 🤔 fix it 😳.

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