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Earthquake risk report prompts council to vacate Heretaunga House

heretaunga house

Following a recent seismic assessment, Hastings District Council has taken the precaution to vacate one of its administration offices.

The three-storey building, Heretaunga House, is located on the corner of Warren St and Lyndon Rd, and houses about 80 Council staff as well as tenanted offices, including the Hastings Māori Land Court.

The building had an initial seismic assessment evaluation procedure completed in 2011 after the Christchurch earthquakes, which indicated the building was sound in relation to earthquake performance.

As per recommended best practice, another assessment was undertaken in June this year, to provide an update ahead of a planned $1.9m upgrade of the building.

This was undertaken by WSP, and given the findings of this report council considered it prudent to have it peer reviewed.

The peer review was carried out by Spencer Holmes Ltd and received by Council this afternoon.

The new reports identified a lower than expected flexibility in the pre-cast flooring and associated reinforcing walls.

Both of these earthquake engineering experts estimated that the performance had an earthquake strength New Building Standard of less than 34 per cent.

Hastings District Council Chief Executive Nigel Bickle said that while Council had not expected the report to raise issues, it also understood that modelling had evolved since the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes.

Mr Bickle said Council had put its staff at the centre of its decision to vacate the building.

“While there is no requirement to vacate the building at this stage, we feel that as an employer and given the low NBS per cent our obligation is to the safety of our staff, and their peace of mind.”

In the short term, staff would work from home or appropriate alternative locations.

“COVID-19 has prompted us all to find new ways of working and so we are all well prepared to cope with this change.”

Council advised its staff and the building’s tenants today, and planned to have relocated its employees by Wednesday next week.

A strategic review will now get underway to evaluate the situation, including developing a plan for the building’s future.

26 June 2020

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