Earthquake-prone churches among Masterton’s building worries

earthquake-prone churches

Churches in Masterton are included on the newly-updated public register of earthquake-prone buildings.

They are among 79 such buildings in the Masterton District. Some of those buildings are in need of urgent work to bring them up to standard by 2026.

In all cases, owners must fix their buildings within a given timeframe so they are no longer earthquake-prone.

Concerns about whether the buildings will be repaired in time are rising now that Masterton District Council has finished auditing building notices in the town.

Among those included on the register are three churches – St Andrews Church on Upper Plain Rd and St Matthews Church in Church St (pictured) and St Teresa’s Catholic Church.

In last week’s parish newsletter, the Parish Finance Committee advised the church building in Greytown had finally been sold.

For many months, the church had been on the market, and while there had been many offers, the parish finance committee submitted only two to Archbishop Paul Martin.

The committee recommended they accept the higher offer, which was accepted.

Council and ratepayer concerns

Masterton’s Deputy mayor Bex Johnson is worried some owners might walk away from their buildings rather than undertake the required strengthening work.

She says that would leave The Council responsible for either fixing or demolishing the buildings.

Her concern is explained in a report filed last week with the Council’s Infrastructure and Services Committee.

It warns: “In instances where owners have not fixed their building, the Building Act sets the expectation that the Council will remove any danger to building users and the public.

“Council will incur significant costs to remove such potential dangers.

“While we [Council] can put a charge on the land to recover costs, it’s unlikely full recovery of costs will be achieved.”

To ensure the public is not endangered, the Council will have to install hoardings around the buildings, undertake the strengthening work, recover the cost from the owner, or start proceedings to demolish the building.

Johnson said the question could impact ratepayers.

Alternatively, it could affect rejuvenation plans for the CBD if some buildings were not going to be there.

Proactivity an option

Johnson is looking ahead to find ways to avoid the potential problem.

“I’m wondering if we can be proactive with this, not reactive, and whether we are having early conversations with the building owners so that we can perhaps identify those that are going to walk away” she says.


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News category: New Zealand.

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