News | 21 December 2017

Mayor welcomes changes to help secure the city’s most risky buildings

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester wants the city’s unsafe buildings secured as soon as possible, and welcomes the changes to the unreinforced masonry (URM) programme announced today by Minister for Building and Construction Hon Jenny Salesa.

The changes come in response to constraints that building owners were facing while attempting to secure buildings.

Mayor Lester says this is a golden opportunity for building owners and expects that the majority of Wellington landlords will take advantage of the changes.

“The Council has been working closely with many building owners in the programme. Some buildings have come off the URM list, and others are making very good progress and will make the 31 March deadline, but for those building owners who have very complex buildings, these changes will offer a bit more flexibility and help them to get the work done urgently.”

From mid-February 2018, building owners will be able to apply for up to $25,000 to secure either a single parapet or facade, or both, and rather than waiting until after securing work is completed, the funding will be able to be accessed early to help fund engineering assessments. 

An increase in funding is also proposed for large/complex buildings. 

“I encourage all building owners who haven’t yet engaged with the Council to do so quickly. There will be little sympathy for those who don’t have a plan to secure their unreinforced masonry,” says the Mayor.

Earlier this year the Wellington City Council identified buildings with unreinforced masonry elements that need to be secured to manage life-safety risks.

Building owners with unreinforced masonry parapets and facades that face into busy thoroughfares were given a year (through to March 2018) to get the work done.

At that time, heightened seismic risk was expected to continue until December 2017.

However, updated forecasting shows that the heightened risk is still present, and is expected to continue for at least another six months. Securing the masonry remains the most effective means of managing the life-safety risks during this period and future seismic events.