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Review of balconies after concert collapse

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/04/2016

The government has ordered a review of building standards for certain balconies after a collapse that injured 18 people during a concert in Dunedin.

Housing and Building Minister Nick Smith has released a government report into the accident at Kiwi band Six60's gig in March, which has found the only thing wrong with the structure was it was overloaded.

The MBIE report found the balcony was designed to the building code, was consented and received a compliance certificate.

"The simple reason this balcony collapsed was that nearly twice the number of people it was designed to support were on the balcony, and many of those people were grouped at one end of it," Dr Smith said.

He said the lesson to be learnt from the case was that residential balconies should not to be used as "grandstands".

"They are designed for a loading ... about two people per square metre, and crowding more than this poses risks," he said.

But he has called for review into loading standards of residential balconies that may be used for events.

"There are environments, such as on streets commonly used for street parades or in close proximity to concert venues, where it may be justifiable to require the higher loadings," he said.

He has also asked for a investigation into the practice of notching structural timber, which is allowed by building standards but has raised concerns over reduced structural strength.

The first-floor packed balcony of a flat on Dunedin's infamous Castle St collapsed during the band's gig on March 4 and fell three metres.

People were thrown to the ground and the decking landed on other concert-goers in a courtyard below.

Two people were seriously injured, including 19-year-old Bailley Unahi who is still in Christchurch's Burwood Hospital with spinal injuries.

The Dunedin City Council has released an independent report into the incident, which found the balcony met building code requirements but the problem lay in the choice of concert venue.

Council spokesman Simon Pickford said the block of student flats was not a suitable location for the gig.

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