Further to our article last week, the Local Government and Environment Select Committee met on 3 July to hear submissions on the Bill.
The main concern throughout the submissions was that the Bill does not take into account earthquake risk in specific geographic areas. Building owners in Auckland would have the same strengthening requirements as Wellington and Christchurch despite facing less risk. One submission favoured a national framework that allowed for local councils to make their own policies.
Other submissions focused on the effects that the strict time requirements will have on heritage buildings. One suggestion was that the owners of these buildings should be able to apply for an extension to the timeframe. There was also some discussion around suggested tax concessions or other contributions to ensure compliance.
The point was raised that there is a risk that the 34% minimum does not secure the economic future of a building as many tenants are now demanding 67% compliance. It was further suggested that certain emergency service buildings and strategic routes should receive further strengthening in preparation for a serious earthquake.
The issue of accessibility for persons with disabilities was also raised. This has been an area of controversy with this Bill (read about this here). One submission was that if the Bill is about strengthening, it did not need to alter accessibility and fire safety provisions.
The Committee will meet again on 24 July.