Call to update building code

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Awkward . . . The traffic light button outside Toitu Otago Settlers Museum is put out of reach by awkward pavement placement, as demostrated by John Marrable. The crossing is under the umbrella of the NZ Transport Agency. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

 

The Government needs to update the building code in order to improve accessibility, a Dunedin City Council adviser says.

Council principal adviser on building solutions Neil McLeod said the New Zealand Building Code was a minimum standard, and the council as the building consent authority could not require anything that was “more onerous or more restrictive”.

For new buildings, there was a requirement to comply fully with the code, and the council would always advocate for better access.

“But [it] is bound to grant a building consent if the minimum standard has been reached,” Mr McLeod said.

For alterations to existing buildings, there is a requirement to make a decision as to the level of compliance required.

Again, the council would always argue for increased levels of accessibility, but must follow recognised guidelines when determining what was “as near as is reasonably practicable”.

“We believe that the best solution is to advocate to Government to update the [building code] requirements,” Mr McLeod said.

Dunedin City Council principal urban designer Kathryn Ward said the council had officially adopted the Global Street Design Guide, outlining best practice in urban design, in 2018.

“We follow the [guide] for any street design work we carry out, such as the George St project and central city upgrade, to ensure our streets are accessible for everyone,” Ms Ward said.

The council was active in engaging with members of the accessibility community, she said.

Council staff attended Access for All, CCS Disability Action, and Disability Advisory Group meetings, and had regular contact with Wakari Hospital and Southern DHB staff.

“We are currently undertaking an accessibility audit of George St .. which will ensure current issues are identified and a future design will be as accessible as practicable,” she said.