Dunedin's building consent authority is struggling to
keep up with the 20 working days limit for processing consents
as it battles with a staff shortage and pressure on the
capacity to process its overflow due to the Christchurch
The Dunedin City Council (DCC), which receives an average of
50 consent applications a week, is sitting on an average
consent processing time of 21 working days.
Before Easter, the longest unprocessed consent was 32 working
DCC building services manager Neil McLeod said it was highly
likely, in that case, staff had had to go back to the
applicant for more information.
The problem with meeting the deadline was twofold, he said.
Two of the council's 10 consents staff resigned in December
and the council had found only one suitable candidate, who
had just begun and was still training.
Also, the other authorities it relied on around the country
to take its overflow when it did not have the capacity to
process its own consent applications on time, were
increasingly busy doing work for the Christchurch City
One of the main authorities the DCC used to process that
overflow was no longer available, as it was 100% contracted
to assist the CCC, which was receiving about 250 more consent
applications than it could handle in-house each week.
Mr McLeod said many of the country's authorities had picked
up more work from the CCC.
Central Otago District Council planning and environment
manager Louise van der Voort, however, said that council,
which received an average of 15.5 consent applications a
week, had a full team of six building control officers and an
average processing time of eight working days.
However, Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) building
services manager Peter Laurenson said his team was also down
two people and consent processing times were creeping up.
The QLDC's processing time was averaging about 13 working
days, but was usually nine days and was not improving, Mr
The council, which employed six people to process consents,
also contracted out its overflow for processing when needed
and had noticed other authorities getting busier, too.
He understood up to 20 were contracting to the CCC and at
least one Auckland authority was no longer available to help
others because it was dealing only with Christchurch
Mr McLeod said the main issue was the difficulty the Dunedin
authority was having replacing the staff who had left,
leaving its capacity down 20%.
Although neither of those staff left to work in Christchurch,
it was challenging to find people with the right skills to
replace them, partly because skilled people were finding
plenty of work in Christchurch.
The DCC employed only as many staff as was economic to deal
with its average application flow and relied on being able to
send the overflow from any peaks in applications to other
authorities to process under contract, he said.
It was using outside authorities to process applications, to
try to get the processing time down and it hoped to employ
another staff member soon.