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Napier City Council office move “complex and challenging”

Napier City Council Civic Building June 2017 2 Web Version4Napier City Council staff have today been briefed on progress related to their planned office building move.

Detailed seismic assessments carried out by Strata Group were presented to Council on 21 June 2017 - the Civic Administration Building was found to meet 10% of NBS (New Building Standards) and the Library Building was rated 15% of NBS. The reports were commissioned ahead of a planned $7 million refurbishment of the office buildings, detailed in the Long Term Plan 2015-25.

Although Council management had guessed that, given its age and design, the Civic Building  might possibly receive a low rating under post Canterbury earthquake legislation, and had started working through possibilities for the transition of staff and services from that building, the rating for the Library Building was “certainly a surprise,” according to Chief Executive Wayne Jack.

“We didn’t anticipate that result at all,” he says. “Before the findings were returned to us, we had sketched out a few possibilities – all of which had us moving all of our Civic Building staff into the Library Building, but this is obviously no longer an option for us immediately. Finding office space for the 200 plus staff accommodated across both sites is proving to be complex and challenging.”

Under current legislation, building owners have seven years to consider the findings of a DSA and ten years to improve and strengthen the building. “However as a territorial authority, we’ve chosen to take a leadership position on this which we hope will give our staff and our community some sense of comfort.  We want our public to be able to continue to access democracy in a building that is safe for them to visit, and for our staff to feel confident and secure while at work.”

NCC has contracted Wellington-based business The Building Intelligence Group to assist with the office move and subsequent fit-out of temporary premises. Mr Jack says a building earmarked for a possible move, however, “has dropped off the list, due to our seismic reporting criteria. What we do not want is to vacate one earthquake prone building only to find ourselves working from another one. The legislation on this changed on July 1, which makes things even more challenging, so we have had to be firm in the criteria we set for ourselves in this regard. We will require any building we move into to have either a Detailed Seismic Assessment report to hand, or if strengthening work has occurred in that building, an engineer’s statement. Our staff are number one, and in order to ensure their safety at work, we need to be clear about what is acceptable and what is not.”

Another consideration is how the Library will be accessed. “We’re exploring a range of options at the moment which would see a pop-up Library and Customer Services counter somewhere in the CBD, until decisions on a permanent Library are made. This would be a place for people to pick up and return books, make rates payments, pay dog registrations and so on.”

Mr Jack says that as of today, there are three office sites that could house all NCC administration staff, when split across them. “It’s not the ideal outcome for us and we had certainly hoped to find one building we could all work from, but it has become clear that in a small city like Napier, large office buildings are in short supply. We are now in active negotiations with the three building owners with a view to moving our staff in a staged approach.”

Mr Jack says that the current administration buildings, including the Library, will remain open for at least the next month, with the Library building continuing to be assessed for refurbishment and strengthening, so that cost estimates are able to be presented to Council for a decision on its future.

NCC staff who are uncomfortable working from the current premises are able to move to alternative Council-owned sites until the temporary office accommodation is established. So far, four staff have chosen this option and are working off-site.

26 July 2017

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