No new buildings in central Christchurch for six months

No new buildings are likely to be built in quake-ravaged central Christchurch until the interim report of a Royal Commission of Inquiry is released in six months, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key yesterday announced the far-reaching inquiry would seek answers as to why so many lives were lost in central city buildings during last month's devastating quake.

It would focus on badly-hit central city buildings like the CTV and Pyne Gould Corporation buildings, where there was significant loss of life, but would also have a broader scope to look into the overall adequacy of building regulations.

An interim report in about six months would outline any building code changes that may be needed for new buildings in central Christchurch.

Mr Key said it was "very, very unlikely" that any new buildings would be constructed in the central city before the interim report was released.

"The reality is it's going to take time to clear the buildings in the Christchurch CBD, it'll take time for the land to settle down, design work needs to take place," he said.

"The sooner we can get that information, the better, because people are going to go about building new buildings, and they need to build them to the new code. That's why we want that interim report."

Mr Key said answers were needed about why such great loss of life occurred, and the Government was determined to get them.

"The Government believes this independent investigation is a vital step in restoring public confidence in the future of the Christchurch CBD," he said.

A final report was expected in about a year.

High Court judge Justice Mark Cooper had been recommended to head the inquiry, with two further members to be announced later.

The inquiry was expected to cost about $6 million and its findings could be applied nationwide.

It will be preceded by a technical investigation by the Department of Building and Housing that will look into the performance of the worst-hit buildings.

Labour leader Phil Goff said yesterday that answers were needed as to why more modern buildings like the CTV and Pyne Gould Corporation buildings had collapsed.

"They should not have collapsed and we need to know the reasons for that."

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Let's have a National minimum standard for earthquake resilience in buildings, both commercial, industrial and domestic, instead of relying on local body pork barrel politics to determine local rules. If we don't learn from this series of events, what will it take?

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Completely agree, but also need to think of the businesses with 'green' stickers - these are only interim inspections with no requirement to have a full inspection by a structural engineer. So many in CHC think the green sticker means the building is safe - 6 months may be too long to wait to find out there was a systemic issue potentially affecting so many more buildings which look okay on the surface now. It should be compulsory for any landlord to have a full structural report completed before tenants can move back in to commercial premises.

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Completely agree, but also need to think of the businesses with 'green' stickers - these are only interim inspections with no requirement to have a full inspection by a structural engineer. So many in CHC think the green sticker means the building is safe - 6 months may be too long to wait to find out there was a systemic issue potentially affecting so many more buildings which look okay on the surface now. It should be compulsory for any landlord to have a full structural report completed before tenants can move back in to commercial premises.

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Waiting for an engineers report will be the death knell for many business's, a certain amount of common sense is required for low rise buildings such as looking for visible signs of structural cracking. Destroying buildings with equipment/data or records inside without giving owners the chance to decide within reason if they are prepared to risk retrieval is nanny state at its worst, life is dangerous and humans are risk takers thats how we have survived so allow natural instincts some room. I have local experience of a building badly damaged in the Sept quake were its was red sticker-ed, the operator despite this quietly removed the important equipment and is still in business which would not have been the case had he abided by the rules - yes he took a risk but it was a risk that paid off.

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Well said ! Common sense so often goes south the moment someone gets a badge, fluro jacket and power. Little napoleans lording it around while desperate owners willing to take personal responsibilty to save whats theirs. Rumpole your good news story is great, but cant help thinking some pinhead would still demand they be hunted down and prosecuted for examples sake.

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I have heard of a lot of businesses that sneaked in and got gear out. Good on them!

Funny that, the lock down is supposed to protect peoples property, yet they can't even seal the area properly and then proceed to knock down the wrong buildings.

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