Council is responsible for buildings and other assets like bridges and roads across Lower Hutt.
Our role as custodians of public buildings is to manage our buildings effectively and efficiently, ensure they are safe to occupy, and manage risk.
Council-owned buildings register
Our building seismic register lists council-owned buildings, what their seismic rating is, and a link to the latest assessment report.
Council-owned buildings range from modern structures to old community halls. They include grandstands and pavilions, purpose-built community hubs, and new facilities like the Events Centre and refurbished Town Hall.
To reassure our community, we have a programme of work in place to assess all our buildings and assets. We regularly commission building assessments and engineering reports on our buildings. When carrying these out, we incorporate any work identified as part of our annual general programme of maintenance.
The types of assessments we carry out are either:
- an Initial Seismic Assessment (ISA), or
- a Detailed Seismic Assessment (DSA).
The results of these inform the next steps we need to take - like if we need to strengthen or modify buildings. Council officers provide advice to Council when significant budget might be needed for planned building work.
What happens if a building is earthquake-prone?
We're subject to the same building legislation we're tasked with regulating and monitoring.
Buildings or parts of buildings that are determined as earthquake-prone are defined in section 133AB of the Building Act 2004 and this is commonly expressed as having a New Build Standard (NBS) rating of less than 34%.
Under the Building Act, Council (as the regulator) must place an Earthquake Prone Building Notice on the building. Council must also specify the timeframe for action as determined by the Building Act.
Council (as the building owner) then needs to resolve this within the timeframe.
Closing an earthquake-prone building
If an earthquake-prone building receives a DSA or other engineering report confirming a rating of below 34% NBS we’ll consider closing it.
When we do this, we consider factors like risk to life, occupancy and the nature of the risks outlined in the DSA. The decision to close a building is made by the Chief Executive with a recommendation from a General Manager.
Building Standards in New Zealand
The Government has rules and guidance in place for the seismic performance of buildings. The building standards in New Zealand are regularly updated.
The New Building Standard score (NBS score) is an important tool in managing and measuring the way buildings perform in an earthquake. The NBS score compares the strength of a building to a new one.
The latest changes to the Building Act 2004 came into force on 1 July 2017. These changes and the recent earthquakes in New Zealand have led to building owners (including councils) undertaking assessments of their buildings. This is so that they know what the seismic performance of their property portfolio is, and to be able to plan any potential work.
Bridges and roads
Bridges and roads do not have NBS ratings like buildings. A Bridge Seismic Strengthening programme was developed some years ago following a seismic assessment by an independent bridge specialist. This programme is almost complete. For an outline of major bridge and road resilience projects, see our Long Term Plan.
Wellington Water Limited manages key drinking water, wastewater and stormwater structures. These include pumping stations, reservoirs and wastewater treatment plants.
The four wharves owned and maintained by Hutt City Council were built between 90 to 124 years ago. They were designed for berthing loads of commercial vessels and ferries. It is unlikely the wharves were designed for seismic loading, but the berthing loads are greater than those that could be expected during an earthquake.
As part of the wharf refurbishment programme, movement joints are being constructed at critical points to improve seismic resilience. Funding commitments to refurbish wharves and improve their resilience are set out in the Long Term Plan.