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Masterton and its 17 ‘high-risk’ earthquake-prone buildings

GRACE PRIOR
[email protected]

Masterton’s Queen St is lined with earthquake-prone buildings, with 12 new notices being handed out to businesses this year.

Of the 12 buildings identified this year, 11 were considered high-risk.

An earthquake rating of 20 per cent to less than 34 per cent earthquake safe was given to eight of the newly identified buildings, while the remaining four did not have a determined rating.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said an undetermined rating meant the territorial authority, in this case Masterton District Council, had not determined whether the building or part was earthquake prone – but they were proceeding as if it had because the owner has not provided an engineering assessment by the due date.

Another reason buildings could be given a “not determined” rating was if a provided engineering assessment didn’t comply with Earthquake Prone Building methodology.

The 12 newly identified buildings lifted the number of unremedied earthquake-prone buildings in Masterton to 45.

Of those 45 unremedied buildings, 17 were considered priority buildings.

One of the buildings to receive a notice this year was the Masterton Trust Lands Trust [MTLT] building on Queen St.

The iconic building has until October 28, 2029, to complete strengthening works.

The Masterton Trust Lands Trust building and the one connected [left] are just two of 12 Masterton buildings added to the earthquake-prone register this year.
Masterton Trust Lands Trust general manager Andrew Croskery said the MTLT building was category two heritage listed and posed a different problem because of its status.

The inside of the Masterton Trust Lands Trust building is also considered heritage, making strengthening a bigger hurdle.

He said strengthening the building carried a price tag of “upwards of $7 million”, but the building wouldn’t hold that price tag when it was done.

“The MTLT building is a priority, but the building next door isn’t.

“Why are some buildings a priority and others not?”

Croskery said the MTLT building wasn’t the only one owned by the trust that had been deemed earthquake prone.

“We believe some of our other buildings had been wrongfully determined as earthquake-prone.”

As for the other buildings owned by the trust, Croskery said they had a year to prove to MDC that they had been wrongfully identified as earthquake prone.

He said there was a “big disconnect” in peoples understanding of what an earthquake-prone building meant, and what the health and safety risks were.

“There’s a higher risk of death from driving an old car to work or biking down a street [than entering an earthquake-prone building].”

MDC regulatory services manager Steven May said the council disagreed that the buildings had been wrongfully determined to be earthquake prone.

Earthquake-prone buildings line Masterton’s Queen St.

“The council obtained expert structural engineering reports that advised the council that the buildings were earthquake prone.

He said the council then had the advice peer reviewed by a second structural engineer who agreed with the ‘earthquake prone’ assessment.

“In accordance with that advice and mindful of its responsibilities under the Building Act 2004, including to ensure that people who use buildings can do so safely and without endangering their health, the council has issued earthquake prone building notices for the buildings concerned,” May said.

Croskery said the rating of the MTLT building and the building attached to it was “not determined” because the work hadn’t been
done to figure it out.

He said the Trust’s money would be better spent on designing remediation, which was already in its preliminary stages.

He said there may be a need for a trade-off between earthquake strengthening and retaining heritage buildings aesthetics.

“The public benefit from heritage buildings but it doesn’t cost them.”

Other heritage buildings in Masterton include the Municipal Buildings, which are now vacant.

Masterton District Council said buildings could be deemed unusable if action was not taken.

May said the council owned three buildings on the register: the Masterton Municipal Buildings, Pioneer Sports clubrooms, and the Masterton Park Bowling clubrooms.

He said earthquake-prone buildings within the Masterton district must carry out seismic work within 15 years, or 7.5 years if the building was stickered or listed as a priority.

May said MDC would not intervene in any remediation works until the remediation period was over. The earliest remediation period for the district will end in 2026.

The risks and the priorities

High risk

said a building deemed earthquake prone was more likely to sustain damage in a moderate earthquake and, as a result, there would be a higher risk to public safety during a moderate earthquake.

A building given a rating of 20 per cent or less of the new building standard [NBS], considered higher risk, would have a 25 per cent higher risk for “failure” than a building that was 100 per cent rated.

Of the 45 Masterton buildings on the register, 10 were rated as “0 per cent to less than 20 per cent” of the NBS. Of all 45 buildings on the register, 12 were identified as being in the highest risk category.

High priority

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said high priority buildings were often hospitals, buildings needed for emergency services, and buildings needed for educational purposes including schools. Councils could also identify buildings along main roads, or with high pedestrian use, as high priority buildings.

A building could be considered high priority if it had unreinforced masonry and that could fall in an earthquake on to a busy street.

Masterton high-risk buildings:

  • McGregor Hall & Daycare Centre
  • CBK [7 Perry St]
  • CBK [9 Perry St]
  • Hardan Building
  • Stuart Henderson Optometrist
  • Sanctuary
  • Masterton Trust Lands Trust
  • 97 Queen St [formerly Hunting and Fishing]
  • King and Henry
  • State Theatre
  • Chans Takeaways
  • Mobile Repair and Nail Salon
  • 230 Queen Street
  • Shoe Clinic
  • Masterton Municipal Buildings
  • 53 Queen Street, Masterton
    47 Queen Street, Masterton

0-20 per cent buildings

  • 45 Chapel Street
  • 126 Dixon Street
  • 148 Dixon Street
  • 107 Ngaumutawa Road
  • 31 Perry Street
  • 42 Bannister Street
  • 4 Chapel Street
  • 14 Cole Street
  • 207 Queen Street
  • 64 Chapel Street
  • Masterton Municipal Buildings
  • 53 Queen Street
  • 47 Queen Street

 

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