Risky buildings in Tauranga torn down

By Amy McGillivray


 


Just 13 of the 92 buildings classified as earthquake risks by the Tauranga District Council more than a year ago have been demolished or made safe.

Six buildings have been demolished and building consent has been obtained to allow the strengthening of seven others.

Landlords have 10 years from the time they are notified to make improvements or demolish their buildings.

The figures come as almost 38,000 people in the Western Bay scrambled for cover today as part of a national earthquake drill.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management encouraged businesses, schools and families around the country to sign up to take part in New Zealand ShakeOut this morning.

Allan Andrews manages The Strand Motel at 27 The Strand, one of the buildings identified as needing work.

His landlord has not made him aware of any plans for the building but Mr Andrews is unfazed.

"He hasn't really said too much. I suspect he's looking at his options," he said. "She's a solid old building. I think they built them pretty tough in those days."

Simon Batters, owner of The Grumpy Mole Saloon, on The Strand, is in much the same situation.

Mr Batters said his lease goes through until late next year and arrangements are likely to be made after that.

Meanwhile, he is not worried about the safety of the premises.

"The building's been standing for over 100 years so I'd say it's perfectly safe."

He has not yet had word of any plans from his landlord but believed the building would most likely be demolished.

There are very few buildings along The Strand that measure up to the safety standards, he said.

The buildings at 59, 61, 65 and 67 The Strand have already been demolished and nine others have been listed as dangerous.

Sue Gower, owner of the building that houses Cobb and Co and Harbourside City Backpackers, said she and husband Ben Gower do not yet have plans for the building which they work in.

She said there are still seven years before something has to have been done.

"You're more likely to be hit by a car. I think it's a big red herring."

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said earthquake proofing buildings was a huge issue throughout the country and would take some time to fix.

"There was quite a long lead-in time given and I think that was sensible. We don't want to send businesses out of business and they need a long lead in time to talk to tenants. It does take time."

He said Tauranga City Council was doing what it could to ease the pressure on property owners who needed to make sure they get a return on the investment they make on strengthening their premises.

"We've modified the city plan rules, particularly in the CBD, to allow more height in some areas and more flexibility," he said. "It's a very complex issue which the council is involved in."

The Bay of Plenty is one of the most seismically active areas of New Zealand. Earthquake activity is greatest in the central part of the region, within the area encompassed by the Taupo Volcanic Zone (Taupo Fault Belt) and the North Island Shear Belt, according to the Ministry of Civil Defence.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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