Council, in its Territorial Authority role, has issued two Earthquake Prone Building (EPB) Notices that apply to the roof of the Tower Block and areas with suspended heavy ceiling tiles in various parts of Civic House that do not meet the 34% threshold of the New Building Standard (NBS).

EPB Notices have been placed in prominent locations, such as entrances and exits around Civic House, in compliance with the Building Act.

As part of Council's ongoing asset and risk management work to assess requirements for any Civic House refurbishment, a broad structural assessment was completed in March 2022. This report concluded the bracing to the Tower Block roof (which is constructed from steel framing with profiled steel cladding) scored less than 20% NBS. This, unfortunately, represents a very high risk to occupants relative to that presented by a similar new building.

In response to the possible risk of early failure and collapse of the roof structure in a seismic event, Council has decided to move all staff off the top floor of Civic House from Friday, 13 May 2022.

This floor, level six, will remain unoccupied while further work is done to assess both the risk and the possibility of a strengthening scheme for the roof. Staff will either work from home or relocate to a different floor of Civic House or Council owned building.

Acting Chief Executive Alec Louverdis stressed this decision was about going above and beyond legislative obligations to keep staff and visitors as safe as possible.

“This is a precautionary step Council has not taken lightly. Although level six can still be lawfully occupied, Council is not prepared to accept the level of risk this report identified.”

Meanwhile, steps have already been undertaken to address heavy suspended ceiling tiles. Work to secure the tiles was carried out in 2021, although there are areas of Civic House that have been assessed as still not meeting the 34% NBS threshold. Since Council has a greater understanding of how to manage this risk, the whole of Civic House does not need to be closed.

Short term action will be taken to decrease the risk from the roof structure and ceiling tiles while plans are made for a longer-term solution as part of the building refurbishment works.

“It is important to note the EPB notices do not mean the building is suddenly unsafe to enter. Council is committed to fulfilling its seismic strengthening requirements well within the legally mandated timeframe,” says Acting Chief Executive Louverdis.  

The EPB notices require Council to complete seismic work on the impacted sections of the roof within 12.5 years (March 2035) and to address the heavy suspended ceiling tiles within 25 years (March 2047).