13 Aug 2016

Strengthening fund 'insufficient' - Property Council

6:18 am on 13 August 2016

A fund to subsidise the earthquake strengthening of privately-owned heritage buildings does not go far enough, the Property Council says.

But Heritage New Zealand, which is supporting the fund, argues it will make a big difference for buildings in smaller towns where strengthening work has been too expensive.

Earthquake strengthening is underway at Wellington East Girls' College

Wellington East Girls' College has already been strengthened. Photo: RNZ/John Gerritsen

The government will contribute $12 million over four years to the fund to support owners of category-one listed heritage buildings and category-two buildings in earthquake-prone areas.

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said the amount was insufficient for the work that needed to happen.

He said earthquake strengthening was complicated and very expensive.

"Sometimes it might involve removing a roof and dropping a large welded steel frame inside the whole asset to hold it together," he said.

"Twelve million dollars would just be the basic consulting costs to consider how you might go about such a job."

Mr Townsend said he was unsure the government really understood the size of the task of getting privately-owned listed buildings up to a safe standard.

Under the funding, private owners would have to match any money they received.

However, Heritage New Zealand said the fund was a step in the right direction.

Its acting head Nicola Jackson said the fund would make a difference in regions where the cost of work was too expensive.

"Particularly in our small towns too that are earthquake prone, and they don't necessarily have the populations to support high business activity as well.

"So the economics of earthquake-strengthening some of those smaller commercial buildings is called into question."

Ms Jackson said there were about 1000 buildings eligible to apply for the fund.

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