Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

House builders chafing at Auckland red tape

Mayor Len Brown and resource consents manager Heather Harris said considerable changes had been made. Photo / Richard Robinson
Mayor Len Brown and resource consents manager Heather Harris said considerable changes had been made. Photo / Richard Robinson

Franchisees at the country's biggest house builder remain dissatisfied with Auckland Council, despite claims of more speed and efficiency.

Steve Bull, with the G.J. Gardner Homes franchise for Manukau, says things are no better.

"There's been no change for our building consents and code compliance certificates. There continues to be a frustration around consistency and we often got consents put on hold pending us supplying new information that has never been a requirement previously. This is the same with certificates," he said.

"The council is not proactive in communicating new requirements and it often depends on who processes the consent as to what new questions you will be asked or not."

Mayor Len Brown and resource consents manager Heather Harris said considerable changes had been made to speed up the supply of new Auckland houses but the builders say they face bureaucratic barriers.

Tony Houston, with the G.J. North Shore/Auckland and West Auckland franchises, sees mixed results.

"West Auckland is very good and very proactive. North Shore is still slow," he said.

Matt Lelean, with G.J.'s Rodney franchise, has noticed no faster council processing.

"Still sitting at around four weeks. We are having issues with resource consents however its really for us to upskill ourselves around the new requirements for these," he said.

Grant Porteous, an owner of the G.J. master franchise, said holdups included requiring a consent for small jobs such as driveways.

But Mike O'Meeghan, with G.J. in Franklin/Papakura, said consenting timeframes were much faster, down to four days for simple builds.

"Resource consent timing has improved as well due to us better understanding the council requirements, and to be fair we have had to drag them along to get to this. The new red tape is causing issues though as you have raised, the iwi issue is seen as a tax from clients and when I spoke to the council about regulating the costs that the iwi can charge and the time it should take they said that this cannot be done.

"On the stormwater resource consent requirement - more than 25sq m of non-permeable area - this is a joke as far as I am concerned and is obviously required on every property that this falls under. The council at Papakura have advised they don't know why it is in there and was decided by someone who wrote the new unitary plan and they were not consulted. Again seems like another cost," O'Meeghan said.

Some big council clients such as Auckland University, Todd Properties and McConnell Group are getting special treatment.

Harris said such key account customers dealt with a dedicated council team to streamline their consents.

Peter Fehl, the university's property services director in charge of a $1 billion property expansion, said the key account set-up had been a valuable service.

- NZ Herald

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