Whanganui District Council has identified areas it proposes to prioritise for the seismic assessment of buildings.

Whanganui District Council building control manager Greg Hoobin said the aim is to improve public safety and keep emergency routes open in the event of an earthquake.

"Under the Earthquake-Prone Building (EPB) legislation introduced in 2017, councils are required to consult the public when determining the location of priority areas."

Over the next eight weeks council is seeking feedback from the community on which roads and footpaths should be included.


Hoobin said that once the priority areas have been finalised, all buildings within those areas will be assessed using the national EPB methodology to evaluate which of them are priority buildings under the Building Act.

"Priority buildings are those that could fall onto a high vehicle or foot traffic area or impede strategic transport routes in a moderate earthquake," Hoobin said.

The council has until July 1, 2022 to identify earthquake-prone priority buildings. The deadline to identify other earthquake-prone buildings is July 1, 2027.

Hoobin said to identify priority areas, the council has looked at where priority thoroughfares and priority routes are in the city.

"A priority thoroughfare is an area with a high volume of vehicle or foot traffic and a priority route is an area where emergency vehicles would need to travel in the event of an earthquake."

The areas identified by council include1-200/200B Victoria Ave, 61-100 Guyton St, 1-30 Maria Place, 34-70 Ridgway St, 2-68 Taupō Quay and 15-39 Putiki Drive.

In a medium seismic zone like Whanganui, priority building owners have up to 12.5 years to complete earthquake-strengthening (from the date of an earthquake-prone building notice being issued) and other earthquake-prone building owners have up to 25 years.

Hoobin said that under this legislation just part of a building can be identified as a priority building.


"Some buildings will need only the frontage of the building strengthened within 12.5 years, but then they will have up to a total of 25 years to strengthen the back part of the building.

"The council will work one-on-one with building owners to give them specific advice on the measures required to strengthen their particular building."

Whanganui District Council policy analyst Justin Walters said the purpose of the work is to "make our city more resilient in an earthquake by prioritising the strengthening of buildings or parts of buildings that present the greatest risk to pedestrians and ensuring routes are kept clear for emergency vehicles".

Whanganui District Councillor Helen Craig said some owners of heritage buildings may be able to access funds for earthquake strengthening through central government's Heritage EQUIP fund.

Through it, building owners can potentially access 67 per cent of seismic strengthening costs up to a maximum of $400,000.

The Proposed Priority Thoroughfares and Routes consultation begins on Monday, May 6 and ends at 5pm on Friday, June 28.

An information evening for building owners will be held on Monday, 27 May from 5.30pm-7.30pm at the War Memorial Centre.

To view consultation information and to submit feedback online, go to www.whanganui.govt.nz/haveyoursay or email your thoughts to policysubmissions@whanganui.govt.nz

Hard copies of the proposed plan and submission forms can be picked up from Whanganui District Council at 101 Guyton St, Davis Central City Library or Gonville Café Library.

Hard copy feedback can be submitted to the council at 101 Guyton St. Please indicate whether you would like to speak to your submission and include contact details.

Submissions close at 5pm on Friday, June 28.

If you have any queries please contact Justin Walters, policy analyst, on 06 349 0001.