The Dunedin City Council says it has got on top of its
building consent processing, following delays earlier this
year that angered the city's builders.
But building services manager Neil McLeod said despite
organising outside contractors to help in busy times, the
nature of the industry meant there were no absolute
guarantees the problem would not emerge again.
Mr McLeod said in the past fortnight, the department had
returned to full compliance, within the 20-day statutory time
frame. There were some consents still in the system over that
period to be worked through, but ''any new consents we're
taking across the counter we're getting out in 20 days''.
In May, builders complained they had been waiting 30 to 40
days for consents and had found themselves unable to start
The council said at the time a combination of a lack of
resources, the unavailability of other consenting authorities
to help because of Christchurch putting pressure on the
system and a lack of staff was behind the problem.
This week, Mr McLeod said apart from an Auckland firm, the
council had contracted two other local authorities to help
out and local staff had worked overtime.
''We will continue to use these contractors when there are a
high number of consent applications in the system or when we
have reduced staff levels,'' Mr McLeod said.
Despite that, he said it did not mean the council would never
struggle with the issue again.
''We can't control our workload,'' he said.
''When we get an applicant coming up to our front counter, we
just have to take it and the clock starts.
''We don't know whether we're going to get two consent
applications a day or 20.
''That's one of the reasons we get these spikes in our
Mr McLeod said there had been no real effect on the council's
budgets from the use of outside consent processing, as they
charged similar amounts to the council and the fee was paid
''Having it processed externally should be no different to
having it processed by the DCC.''
The council had been hearing from the people it dealt with.
''In terms of people being unhappy; yes, absolutely.
''We can only apologise for that.''
Mr McLeod said with no control over workload, staff resigning
earlier this year and an external contractor too busy to take
work, the council had faced ''a perfect storm''.
''One of the problems the industry as a whole faces is when
Dunedin is busy, the rest of the country is busy, as well.''
That meant the spare processing capability the council tapped
into became unavailable ''when we need it most''.
The new contracts for extra work ''can't be a guarantee,
though we're trying desperately to make it that way''.
''What we can say is we now have processes in place which
will mean that we start sending applications out of the city
much earlier on in the process.''