Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Auckland Council plans to inspect city carparks

Auckland Council will inspect at least 35 parking buildings erected before 2002 after a terrifying fifth-floor plunge off a Newmarket carpark last week.

A 30-year-old woman who was critically injured in the crash on March 22 remains in a serious but stable condition in Auckland Hospital. A man who was also injured has been discharged.

The council's general manager Building Control Ian McCormick said it had now decided to audit some of the city's carparks.

"It's disturbing that it could have occurred. It's very unusual to hear of anything like this," McCormick said.

Council staff investigated the Newmarket Tournament carpark building the day after the accident and found the wheel stop barrier was no longer centred on the parking space.

"Whether it was in that position before the incident, or if it's been moved as a result, that's interesting."

McCormick said wheel stops tended to be mechanically fixed into the ground or cemented into place.

"It's possible from time to time that this could deteriorate," he said. "If there is something wrong with that connection to ground, what does that say for the compliance of that barrier?"

He said there would be discussions with owners of carparks more than two storeys high that were built before 2002 about the latest incident.

So far the council had identified 35, but there could be more.

In particular the council would ask building operators to ensure wheel stops were safely secured, that there was no barrier deterioration, to ensure they have a regular maintenance regime in place and to consider upgrading barriers if they just met the minimum pre-2002 standard.

McCormick said the post-2002 standard dictated barriers needed to withstand at least three tonnes of force. Pre-2002 standards only required the wheel stop and lighter barriers.

The council also planned to audit a number of buildings' barriers to ensure they were complaint. MBIE manager Building Systems Control Peter Laurenson confirmed it was aware of an investigation but was not involved.

"The council has committed to keeping us up to date with its investigation and when it's concluded we'll decide whether any further investigation is required by MBIE."

There are several multi-storey carparks in Auckland city owned by a number of operators including Tournament, Wilson and Auckland Transport.

An AT spokesman said all its buildings, barring the Ronwood Ave carpark, were built before 2002.

He said the carparks, which all had wheel stops between the wall and parking space, had been maintained appropriately and had certificates of fitness.

Wilson Parking said it was not aware of the audit, but it would be happy to assist the council.

It added its operations managers regularly reviewed its sites.

Tournament, which operated the Newmarket site, did not return calls. McCormick said the council couldn't force owners to upgrade to the post-2002 standards but confirmed if a building was unsafe it could be declared dangerous and the council could issue a notice to fix within a set period of time.

The police investigation into the Newmarket incident is ongoing.

- Herald on Sunday

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