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Molesworth building under council control

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/11/2016

The council has taken over the deconstruction of the Wellington building that was damaged in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

Mike Scott, manager of building consents and compliance at Wellington City Council (WCC), said it's taken over management 61 Molesworth Street from the building's owner, Prime Property Group, so that the deconstruction could happen as quickly as possible.

"To ensure public safety, this work must be completed as quickly as possible, and that's one of the main reasons we're taking over management of the building," he said.

The property group and its insurers will still be liable for the costs.

The building, and the area immediately around it, has been cordoned off since November 15 after concerns it would collapse.

A demolition contractor has been hired to deconstruct the building, using an 85-tonne excavator.

Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery says the first to go will be the Molesworth Street facade of the building.

"By doing this, we can hopefully reduce the cordon around Molesworth Street to vehicles and pedestrians within around a week of demolition work starting," he said.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have launched an investigation about whether the property was being used for residential purposes unlawfully, after a family say they had been living in the building.

"Renting out buildings not consented for residential purposes for people to live in ... raises serious health and safety concerns and is a breach of landlords' responsibilities," said Steve Watson, national manager compliance and investigation of tenancy services.

Anyone who was living in 61 Molesworth Street is asked to contact Tenancy Services on 0800 TENANCY.

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