Funding available to strengthen historic buildings

STRENGTHENING: Andrew Wilkie from McCannics carries out earthquake strengthening work at a premises in Gladstone Road last year. File picture by Paul Rickard.

OWNERS of some historic buildings in the Gisborne district have been urged not to delay applying for government grants if they need help meeting the cost of mandatory earthquake-strengthening work.

Following changes to the Building Act, which defines an earthquake-prone building as one that is less than 34 percent of the strength required of a new building, buildings identified as earthquake-prone can be demolished if strengthening work is not carried out within a certain time.

Two hundred and fifty-one buildings are listed as historic in Gisborne.

Heritage-listed buildings can apply for support to help meet the cost of earthquake-strengthening work through the new Heritage Earthquake Upgrade Incentive Programme fund (EQUIP) from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

EQUIP fund manager Mike Frew said although no applications had yet been received from Gisborne building owners, at least one Gisborne application was in the pipeline.

“I have had a couple of conversations with Gisborne District Council and building owners in Gisborne, and there is certainly one project that’s on the boil," he said.

“The way our funding works is we accept applications for work once the work has been consented. So all that council consenting process needs to be worked through before building owners can apply.”

Earthquake-prone legislation now divides New Zealand into three earthquake categories.

High-risk areas

In high-risk areas, like Wellington and Gisborne, all non-reinforced masonry (non-residential) buildings need to be assessed within five years and upgraded within 15 years, with hospitals and emergency buildings like fire stations, required to be assessed and upgraded in half that time.

The Historic Place register shows 11 category 1-listed buildings in the Gisborne district, and 240 category 2-listed buildings.

Mr Frew said although building owners in many small towns were finding it difficult to get coherent engineering advice, Gisborne was in a better position.

“There’s a bit of expertise around Gisborne. There are several properties in Gisborne that have been upgraded and some proactive developers in Gisborne, which is great.”

The fund would conduct three or four funding rounds a year until June 2020, with $8 million left to distribute.

Mr Frew said nine grants had been approved over three funding rounds, since the scheme launched a year ago.

GDC building consents manager Ian Petty said many of the buildings that get earthquake-strengthened will also require a resource consent.

“Especially if they are on a heritage building schedule, the process could become relatively complex.

“So we advise all potential applicants to contact the council first so we can arrange a pre-application meeting to help make the consenting process smoother.”

Gisborne ahead of the plan

Mr Petty said the new legislation was only enacted in July, but Gisborne was already ahead of the play.

“Unlike many regions, Gisborne has had an active earthquake strengthening regime since 1988. Almost all of our earthquake-prone buildings have already been identified.

“We’ll complete a reassessment of the building stock by the end of 2018, to correlate with the amended legislation to ensure no buildings have been missed.”

A report to the council’s Environmental Planning and Regulations Committee found that most commercial buildings in Gisborne’s city centre had already been strengthened.

“Many of our central business district buildings have already been strengthened with 90 percent or more taken to a level of over 67 percent of new building standard.

“In terms of life-risk, Gisborne only has a few buildings left to strengthen and most of them are in the lower traffic areas of the city.”

OWNERS of some historic buildings in the Gisborne district have been urged not to delay applying for government grants if they need help meeting the cost of mandatory earthquake-strengthening work.

Following changes to the Building Act, which defines an earthquake-prone building as one that is less than 34 percent of the strength required of a new building, buildings identified as earthquake-prone can be demolished if strengthening work is not carried out within a certain time.

Two hundred and fifty-one buildings are listed as historic in Gisborne.

Heritage-listed buildings can apply for support to help meet the cost of earthquake-strengthening work through the new Heritage Earthquake Upgrade Incentive Programme fund (EQUIP) from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

EQUIP fund manager Mike Frew said although no applications had yet been received from Gisborne building owners, at least one Gisborne application was in the pipeline.

“I have had a couple of conversations with Gisborne District Council and building owners in Gisborne, and there is certainly one project that’s on the boil," he said.

“The way our funding works is we accept applications for work once the work has been consented. So all that council consenting process needs to be worked through before building owners can apply.”

Earthquake-prone legislation now divides New Zealand into three earthquake categories.

High-risk areas

In high-risk areas, like Wellington and Gisborne, all non-reinforced masonry (non-residential) buildings need to be assessed within five years and upgraded within 15 years, with hospitals and emergency buildings like fire stations, required to be assessed and upgraded in half that time.

The Historic Place register shows 11 category 1-listed buildings in the Gisborne district, and 240 category 2-listed buildings.

Mr Frew said although building owners in many small towns were finding it difficult to get coherent engineering advice, Gisborne was in a better position.

“There’s a bit of expertise around Gisborne. There are several properties in Gisborne that have been upgraded and some proactive developers in Gisborne, which is great.”

The fund would conduct three or four funding rounds a year until June 2020, with $8 million left to distribute.

Mr Frew said nine grants had been approved over three funding rounds, since the scheme launched a year ago.

GDC building consents manager Ian Petty said many of the buildings that get earthquake-strengthened will also require a resource consent.

“Especially if they are on a heritage building schedule, the process could become relatively complex.

“So we advise all potential applicants to contact the council first so we can arrange a pre-application meeting to help make the consenting process smoother.”

Gisborne ahead of the plan

Mr Petty said the new legislation was only enacted in July, but Gisborne was already ahead of the play.

“Unlike many regions, Gisborne has had an active earthquake strengthening regime since 1988. Almost all of our earthquake-prone buildings have already been identified.

“We’ll complete a reassessment of the building stock by the end of 2018, to correlate with the amended legislation to ensure no buildings have been missed.”

A report to the council’s Environmental Planning and Regulations Committee found that most commercial buildings in Gisborne’s city centre had already been strengthened.

“Many of our central business district buildings have already been strengthened with 90 percent or more taken to a level of over 67 percent of new building standard.

“In terms of life-risk, Gisborne only has a few buildings left to strengthen and most of them are in the lower traffic areas of the city.”

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