All Saints' Church, Palmerston North

The Current Problem

In December 2011, notification was received from the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) that the church had been evaluated as an earthquake prone building. The Initial Evaluation of Performance (IEP) was ranked 3 (out of 100), meaning the structure had 3% of New Building Standard (NBS). A requirement was for the Church to accept the findings of the report and to provide a remedial programme for repair work to PNCC within 6 months or to challenge the finding. The Church sought the advice of Dunning Thornton Consultants Ltd., who had been involved in the initial survey of the building in 1999, and their advice was that any reassessment was unlikely to exceed 10%. As a result of deliberations in 2012, it was decided to vacate the church at Easter 2013, and to relocate services elsewhere on site.

Once a building has been identified as Earthquake Prone, the PNCC Policy is for the building to be seismically strengthened to at least 34% of New Building Standard within a period of 15-30 years depending on the priority services of the building. Government has recently announced that for buildings in this location (Zone 1), a lower limit of 34% must be met within a 15 year target (with a possible extension to 25 years for historical buildings).

All Saints has adopted a recommendation to strengthen the church using a method of drilling vertical holes through the brick walls and inserting steel wires which are tightened to improve the strength of the walls (the engineering term is “post-tensioning”) to 100% NBS. To ensure the building is fit for purpose over the next century a new entrance and frontage is also proposed, to overcome current difficulties especially for weddings and funerals in inclement weather.

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