Wellington Scoop

City Council considering loans to encourage owners to strengthen buildings

There’s been much media interest today in the decision by Wellington city councillors to investigate loans for owners who haven’t yet started work to strengthen unreinforced masonry and facades on their buildings.

The NZ Herald reports that the council is considering loans which would be at a lower rate than banks would give, and would be paid back through the rates.

But according to the Herald, property developer Richard Burrell told councillors there was no need for the council to fund commercial property owners. “It’s not your job to become a bank,” he said. “They’re big boys, they’re able to do it. Stick to your deadline. If they haven’t commenced work we need containers put in front of the shops and buildings vacated, because once they lose their income stream, they will come to the market.”

RadioNZ reports the council is considering being the lender of last resort. It quotes Cr Iona Pannett as saying it is time for the council to get more strict with those who have not begun to fix their facades, and who are facing a Government deadline of the end of March.

The DomPost describes the move as a last-ditch effort to get work done before the deadline. It quotes Councillor Pannett as saying the loans would be sourced from banks and financial institutions, and would not cost ratepayers.

Press Release – Wellington Chamber Of Commerce
The Wellington Chamber of Commerce welcomes recommendations that the city council give further assistance to building owners to secure unreinforced masonry parapets and facades throughout the city.

“With the chances of a major earthquake now three times higher than it was before last year’s Kaikoura event, and with building owners struggling to meet the Government’s deadline of 1 April to get this work done, it makes perfect sense that the council acts – and fast,” says Chamber Chief Executive John Milford.

“Something has to happen. Of the 96 buildings identified as needing facades and parapets secured, none have been completed – for a variety of reasons beyond their control – and only around a third are in the planning stage, and that is clearly not satisfactory.

“The Chamber welcomes the council’s proposal to investigate a targeted rate to help owners access funding to secure unreinforced masonry and undertake seismic structural strengthening, and to fund programme management to help owners source contractors, engineers and project management.

“This sort of action, using targeted rating as a way, enables the work without risk to ratepayers. It’s the business of council.”


  1. Iona Pannett, 10. November 2017, 9:07

    Means testing on the agenda to ensure that help for owners of earthquake prone buildings is really needed. [via twitter]

  2. Marion Leader, 10. November 2017, 12:31

    When will we getting lame excuses for not meeting the “Government deadline of the end of March”?
    The penalties for not meeting that deadline should NOT be fudged and surely should not be paid by a loan from ratepayers.
    In the meantime, bad landowners are putting us all at risk both before and after the deadline.