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The Otago Mayoral Forum today agreed to investigate the development of a common set of principles and joint working arrangements to earthquake prone buildings. The approach will see Otago councils join together to share knowledge and practices regarding earthquake prone buildings, advocate to central government on the implications of any potential changes to the Building Act for Otago and look at ways to better align local policies and approaches to working with building owners. In addition the approach will allow councils to further raise awareness of the issue and response to earthquake prone buildings across Otago.
In a joint statement the Mayors of Central Otago, Clutha, Dunedin City, Queenstown Lakes, Waitaki and the Chair of the Otago Regional Council affirmed:
“This joint approach will ensure councils across Otago have the opportunity to work collaboratively on a significant issue affecting many building owners and the wider community. It will enable Otago councils to advocate to government on common issues such as seismic risk, affordability, heritage and potential change in legislation with a single voice and ensure expertise and good practice is shared. We believe this arrangement will lead to further communication and certainty for building owners as the Crown considers the recommendations from the Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission. We anticipate this work will culminate in the development of joint working arrangements and good processes that meet the needs of Otago building owners and the community in an affordable way now and in the future”.
As a first step, council policy, planning and building control officers will meet in Dunedin at the end of September to gain a better understanding of the issues and approaches in each council. Each council will continue to administer their respective individual dangerous, insanitary and earthquake prone buildings policies locally.
Officers will report back to the Otago Mayoral Forum by the end of February 2013 with a view to each council consulting with their communities on options for future joint working arrangements as part of the 2013/14 annual plan processes.