Auckland Council has designated an area in the Papatoetoe region under the Building Act 2004 to support the response and recovery from the tornado on Saturday 19 June.
“This is an important administrative step in managing affected buildings after an emergency,” says General Manager Building Consents Ian McCormick.
“Building management is not a short-term task and establishing a designation enables the council to continue the post-emergency building assessment process in a practical time period.
“It also assists the council’s compliance team and Police to manage any enforcement needs.
“I urge building owners and occupiers to visit the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment’s website to learn more about the post-emergency building assessment process, and the resources and related information available,” he says.
The designation began at 6pm on Monday 21 June, approved by Minister for Building and Construction, Poto Williams. The council and MBIE will review the state of the designation every 90 days.
The council’s building inspection team began assessment of affected buildings the day after the 19 June tornado. A team of 45 inspectors and building consents staff visited more than 240 properties on their first day, checking for damage and applying red, orange and white placard categories.
“Our team encountered homes with large-scale damage like the loss of roofing materials and structural damage, to damage caused by windblown debris and fallen trees, and more minor impacts,” says Mr McCormick.
“We also saw a great deal of community spirit and support – the residents of Papatoetoe have a tough time ahead while clean up efforts and repairs get underway, but we are pleased to have been able to get the ball rolling with this important step toward a safe recovery,” he says.
About designated areas under the Building Act 2004
What is a designated area?
The first step in managing affected buildings after an emergency is to establish a designated area, under section 133BC of the Building Act 2004.
A designated area is an area approved by the Minister to allow a local authority to take specific actions under the Building Act to manage buildings in an emergency.
What will happen next?
Once a designated area is in place, the Building Act provides a number of special powers that may be exercised in respect of all buildings within the designated area.
The powers that can be used within a designated area provide a responsible person with authority, in this case Auckland Council, to (among other things):
- Enter buildings
- Complete post-event assessments
- Direct the evacuation of buildings
- Put in place measures for protecting buildings and keeping people at a safe distance
- Place notices and signs on buildings
- Direct the owners of building or land to provide information
- Direct works (urgent and non-urgent) to remove or reduce risks
- Direct works for long term use or occupation of a building.
How long will it be a designated area?
Until all buildings within the area are deemed safe. Auckland Council will review the designation at least every 90 days, and notify the public of the outcome of this review.
A designation of area can be in force for up to three years and can be subsequently be extended one time for a further three years, during which certain powers may be exercised.
When was the last time a designated area was established?
Some councils have conducted building assessments following weather-related events across New Zealand, but this is the first time the powers under the Building Act have been used and a designated area has been established.
These designation powers only came into force in December 2019, following the passing of the Building Amendment Act 2019.
What happens if a building owner or resident chooses to ignore council instructions?
The Building Act sets out a number of offences and penalties for non-compliance when the Building Act powers are in place. The council (in this case) has the powers to make decisions about non-compliance. Penalties include the ability for fines of between $5000 and $200,000.