Priority Buildings

Priority buildings are considered a higher risk because of their construction type, use or location. Priority buildings have a shorter time frame to carry out seismic work.

Identifying priority buildings

Priority buildings will be identified by one of the following ways:

  • Buildings that are used as an emergency service or education centre. This includes some hospitals, civil defence buildings, schools, university buildings, early childhood education centres and private training establishments. These buildings will have 7.5 years to strengthen the entire building. 
  • Buildings that could collapse in an earthquake and block an Emergency Transport Route (A road/ route identified as critical for emergency response). These buildings will have 7.5 years to strengthen the entire building. 
  • Buildings with unreinforced masonry (URM) that could fall onto a High Traffic Route (A street, road or thoroughfare with high numbers of pedestrian or vehicle traffic). These buildings will have two timeframes: 7.5 years to strengthen any URM elements that could fall onto the road, and the remainder of 15 years to strengthen the rest of the building. 

Map of emergency transport routes and high traffic routes

Priority buildings already identified as earthquake-prone

(ie an existing ‘yellow notice’ dated prior to 1 July 2017)
 
Wellington City Council is required to issue updated notices on all existing earthquake-prone buildings (EPB).

In most cases, the deadline for strengthening will not change. However, under the legislation changes (which came into effect in July 2017), buildings that have an existing earthquake-prone notice and are now identified as priority buildings may have a reduced deadline.

There are three scenarios for buildings that are priority buildings with updated EPB notices:

When the original deadline is less than 7.5 years away

The updated notice will keep the existing (shorter) deadline. 

Example: The building at 2 Example Street was identified as an earthquake-prone building in January 2010. The deadline to complete seismic work was 15 years (January 2025). Under the national EPB programme, the Council identifies that the building is on an emergency transport route, and is therefore, categorised as a priority building.
An updated earthquake-prone building notice is issued in August 2019. As the original deadline is in 6 years, (2025) this deadline remains.

When the original deadline is more than 7.5 years away

The updated notice will be adjusted with the shorter 7.5 year deadline.

Example: The building at 30 Example Terrace was identified as earthquake-prone on 1 January 2015. The deadline to complete seismic work was 15 years (1 January 2030).
Under the national EPB programme, the Council identifies that the building is on an emergency transport route, and is therefore, categorised as a priority building.
An updated earthquake-prone building notice is issued and as the original deadline for strengthening is in 11 years, the updated notice is reduced to 7.5 years (from when the updated notice is issued).

When the building has unreinforced masonry and is on a High Traffic route

The owner will have 7.5 years to strengthen URM elements that could fall onto the road, and until the original notice deadline to strengthen the rest of the building.

Example: The unreinforced masonry (URM) building at 100 Example Road was identified as an earthquake-prone building in January 2015. The deadline to complete seismic work was 15 years (January 2030).
Under the national EPB programme, the Council identifies that the building at 100 Example Road is on a high-traffic route and has unreinforced masonry elements, and is therefore categorised as a priority building. 
An updated earthquake-prone building notice is issued in July 2019 with two different deadlines;  A 7.5 year deadline for the URM elements (January 2027) and the original deadline for the remainder of the building (January 2030).

If you have strengthened the URM parts of the building

If your building has been identified as a priority building, but you believe that is no longer the case, i.e. you have strengthened the URM parts of the building, please contact the Building Resilience team to update your building’s status.

More information

Email: buildingresilience@wcc.govt.nz
Phone: 04 499 4444