Consultation on proposed public verandahs bylaw to keep Wellington safe and resilient

21 April 2015

The Wellington City Council Transport and Urban Development Committee agreed last week to a draft verandahs bylaw that will go to public consultation from 8 May.

If introduced, the bylaw will require building owners to repair and maintain their verandahs – roofed spaces extending from buildings over a public space – to a reasonable standard.

“Verandahs provide an essential function for the city,” says Committee Chair Councillor Andy Foster. “This bylaw gives us the ability, if necessary, to enforce their upkeep to keep the public safe, contribute to the city’s resilience, protect people from the weather and make the city an attractive place to live and to do business.”

Stephen Cody, the Council’s Building Resilience Manager, agrees the bylaw would address the current regulatory gap. “Being able to address poorly maintained verandahs mitigates the risk they pose to public safety.”

The Council surveyed the city’s approximately 900 verandahs and identified that 225 needed some form of repair. Of the 225, up to 45 need immediate action to be restored to a reasonable and safe standard. Many of these verandahs are in the central city, which has a high population, so pose a particular risk.

Buildings Portfolio Leader Councillor Iona Pannett says, “Verandahs are an important part of Wellington’s character and our heritage buildings.”

The proposed bylaw is a new Part 10: Structures in Public Places – Verandahs, of the Wellington City Council Consolidated Bylaw 2008. The bylaw is intended only for verandahs over public places, not those on private property.

Building owners of defective verandahs will receive a letter asking them to repair their verandahs to a reasonable standard before the bylaw is invoked.

“It’s about being proactive,” says Pannett. “For the verandah owner, regular maintenance is cheaper in the long run and Wellington benefits; it’s win-win.”

The next step is a public consultation seeking feedback on the draft bylaw, which will start on 8 May and end 10 June 2015. Information about the consultation will be available at wellington.govt.nz