Draft MBIE Earthquake Prone Building determination released

We have reported on the progress  (or lack of it) with the earthquake prone building test case on several occasions. The case will test whether the Wellington City Council’s designation of two buildings as earthquake prone are invalid because the Council had not applied the correct legal test. This requires that the buildings be likely to collapse in a moderate earthquake, not that their NBS assessment is below 34 percent using the NZSEE guidelines approach.

The test case is highly significant.  If the council has not being applying a lawful assessment methodology then most of their earthquake prone building designations will be invalid.

MBIE released a draft (final) determination in September and received a response in October.  The applicants said that the determination was biased, because it was made by the same individual who is playing a key role in the development of MBIE’s policy in this area; and deceptive, because it omitted key arguments made by the applicants and important matters discussed in the hearing that discussed the first draft of the determination.

Several weeks after the applicants’ response no final determination had been released. MBIE eventually responded by saying that there would be substantial changes in the draft and that the final would be released “within the next fortnight”. Three weeks have passed, nothing has been released and MBIE has not responded to requests that a date be given.

The applicants are not expecting any substantive change in the draft determination, which validated everything the council has done, and will appeal to the District Court. They want to get on with the appeal of the determination, which has now dragged on for nearly a year, despite the legal requirement that MBIE complete it within 60 working days.

It is now appropriate for the test case and MBIE’s behavior to be subject to some public scrutiny. To that purpose the following documents are available below:

The third document has been amended slightly to take out references to third parties.