Chch mayor: Council will meet consenting deadline

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is adamant his council will meet a two-week deadline to speed up its consenting process, as the Government threatens to step in if it does not.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has said the time has come for the Government to take urgent action to address the city council's "repeated inability" to meet statutory time-frames for processing building consents.

The drastic measure comes after the council was sent a letter from International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) on May 30.

It gives the council until June 28 to improve consenting processes or lose accreditation as a building consent authority.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, Mr Parker was adamant the council would sort the issue out.

"Yes we'll get to the deadline but not because we've got a rocket from the minister ...

we've been working on this for well over a year and we're going to get there."

Mr Parker said there was not a council in the country that got all its consents done in the statutory timeframe.

"The February 2011 earthquake exacerbated already existing problems with processes and time-frames with building consents.

"In supporting the rebuild of the city, Christchurch has experienced an unprecedented demand for building consents, and we knew we had a big job ahead of us to meet that demand. We've been working on ramping up our processes and systems to handle this huge influx and keep the rebuild moving."

Mr Brownlee and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson are now working on a contingency plan for implementation ahead of the IANZ deadline of June 28 for a decision to be made on whether the council maintains its building consent authority accreditation.

The council received an average of 35 building applications a day in March and April, according to the agenda from this month's planning committee meeting; a workload which led council officers to report: "We have seen backlogs develop across all process steps - from pre-processing initial data entry through processing and into typing. The sheer volume exceeds capacity, and applicants are expressing a significant level of concern at this."

Mr Brownlee said: "The council knew this workload was coming and hasn't adequately addressed it".

"We can't let that continue, and will be discussing the Government's approach with councillors soon."

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said a comment from Mr Parker that the council was dealing with more than 80 per cent of its consents on time were not correct.

"Reports from the council show it is only meeting the statutory timeframe in around 75 per cent of applications," Mr Williamson said.

"I have also had contact from one person who followed up with the council 20 days after lodging her consent only to be told it had not even been looked at."

- APNZ

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