Councils to align on quake policy

Otago councils have agreed to investigate a joint approach to deal with earthquake-prone buildings.

It was agreed at a recent mayoral forum that Otago's six councils would share their knowledge and practices regarding earthquake-prone buildings and look at ways to better align local policies and approaches to working with building owners.

Project co-leader Dunedin City Council heritage planner Dr Glen Hazelton said aspects that might be co-ordinated regionwide include shared processes, timeframes for upgrading buildings and the way in which people were kept notified of requirements.

A joint approach would allow councils to further raise awareness throughout Otago.

In a joint statement, the mayors of Central Otago, Clutha, Dunedin City, Queenstown Lakes, Waitaki and the chairman of the Otago Regional Council said earthquake-prone buildings were a significant issue that was affecting many building owners and the community.

A joint approach would mean councils could advocate to the Government on behalf of the whole region on common issues such as seismic risk, heritage and change in legislation with a single voice.

Dr Hazelton said a joint approach would mean expertise and good practice were shared and could simplify processes for people who owned buildings in more than one part of Otago.

The Government is expected to consult with local authorities as it considers recommendations from the Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission that might lead to changes in legislation on earthquake-prone buildings.

Council policy, planning and building control officers will meet in Dunedin next week.

A report is to go back to the Otago Mayoral Forum by the end of February with a concept for a regional approach.



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