Businesses have blasted Auckland Council's unnecessary red tape which they say is holding them back and causing costly delays.

Overly complicated systems, being shunted between departments and having queries taking up to three times longer than the Council's promised timeframe to process were just some of the issues faced.

Auckland Council says it is working to improve its efficiency and service.

Director of regulatory services Penny Pirrit says changes needed to be made.


"We recognise that the council needs to step up and deliver a higher level of performance to our customers, citizens and the community," Pirrit said. "Developing customer-friendly services will see the council getting the job done faster, more conveniently and at a lower cost."

Pizza chain Domino's has blamed a slow and inefficient process for holding up numerous store openings with group chief executive Don Meij earlier this month saying the Council was the biggest barrier the company was facing.

In the last 12 months, at least six of its stores have been held up by delayed permissions and approvals with two stores ready to open but waiting on approval while the company continues to pay rent and taxes.

Dominos chief executive Don Meij.
Dominos chief executive Don Meij.

"We've had sites mothball - we've built them and they're sitting there for nine months because we can't get it open because it needs approval," Meij said. "That's not very efficient for business. Economically in a modern place it's a challenge that needs to be recognised - it's holding back business."

Auckland restaurant Coco's Cantina said dealings with the Council had been "nightmarish" with the simplest requests taking months and crossing multiple departments and people.

"If we hadn't already been a current business and able to keep trading, we would have gone under," co-founder Renee Coulter said.

"We might have stayed but then you're starting on the back foot and it's not just about the rent - it's all the associated costs that come with a project being on hold because everyone is busy," she said. "If you miss your window with a builder, plumber etcetera, you end up back down the bottom of the queue and it's a flow-on effect."

The Council said it was planning to simplify the system in the next 12 months to avoid double-ups and fast-track applications.


"We want to move away from the current approach, which considers consenting requirements separately and is more council-focused," Pirrit said. "This will minimise confusion and streamline the customer experience, which historically involved dealing with multiple council teams."

Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer said one of the main reasons for council amalgamation had been to improve efficiency of local government in Auckland.

"[It's] worrying the examples ... [that] keep flowing out," Brewer said. "Yes we've seen some improvements in the amount of consents completed within the 20-day statutory timeframe for example, but it seems for many the clock keeps stopping, the questions keep coming, and the requests and rules keep changing," he said. "Hearing these examples shows council's still got a long way to go."