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Friday, March 4, 2011

Christchurch property owners warned about demolishing buildings

Christchurch property owners warned about demolishing buildings

Thu, 3 Mar 2011

Owners of buildings damaged in last Tuesday's deadly Christchurch earthquake need to consider their obligations before demolishing properties, Civil Defence says.

The warning follows the demolition of the Sydenham Heritage Church, built in 1878, which was demolished without the consent of the owners or Civil Defence.

A Civil Defence spokesman said this afternoon that set protocols and processes had to be followed for damaged buildings, and there were additional requirements for heritage buildings.

Buildings covered by the protocols were those more than six storeys high, joined to other buildings or built before 1945.

"The owner must first commission a report from a structural engineer including an assessment of the building's safety, its structural integrity, as well as photos and other relevant documents," the spokesman said.

"This report should include the options to demolition. A demolition plan is also required as part of this report."

An independent structural engineer must peer review the report, and the next step is an evaluation by the Christchurch City Council, including its heritage staff.

The reports are considered by the Civil Defence national controller, who will make a decision on whether or not the building can be demolished.

"If the national controller is satisfied enough information has been provided, a decision on whether or not to demolish will be made.

"This process overrides heritage law and rules but these will be considered by the national controller. Ensuring public safety is the primary concern."

Buildings which are six storeys or less, standalone or built after 1945 can be demolished without consent under the Canterbury Earthquake Emergency Act (2010).

Sydenham Heritage Trust deputy chairman Neil Roberts told The Press Southern Demolition demolished the Sydenham Heritage Church without the trust's consent.

The trust became aware of it only when demolition work set off an alarm.

"Nobody got in touch with us - not a word," Mr Roberts said.

The trust would make a complaint about the demolition company.

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