$21,000 fees not expected by developer

A Dunedin developer says he did not hear from the Dunedin City Council as his resource consent application fees rose to more than $21,000.

Simon Eddy had applied to build a $1.5million child-care centre in Caversham.

Yesterday, he targeted communication from the council as one reason he found himself with such a large bill for a proposed development he cancelled last year after the council required him to drop its capacity from 100 children to 60.

Mr Eddy was arguing his case at a hearing into his objection to the extent of the fees.

He told committee chairman Cr Andrew Noone, and members Cr Andrew Whiley and Colin Weatherall he had not formally requested an update of fees as the process unfolded.

"But at no point was it indicated we were racking up fees so beyond what would be expected in a limited notification application.''

The council had already offered in a letter to Mr Eddy to cut the fees by $3601.61, though the offer had been declined.

Mr Eddy appeared at the hearing on his own, but said should the matter go the the Environment Court, he would hire legal counsel.

He said the issue came down to reasonableness around what should have been charged, and the level of efficiency by council staff involved in the process.

Earlier, the meeting had heard from senior planner John Sule one of the reasons the application process had cost so much was the number of submissions that had come from concerned neighbours.

But Mr Eddy said more than 50% were identical pro forma submissions from one neighbour who gathered support to oppose the application.

He also noted some of the work by a planner had been done at the planner's home, and raised concerns about specificity in documentation of what the planner was doing.

He said he would not want a planner doing vacuuming while charging for their time.

Mr Eddy said advice he had was the cost of the application should have been between $14,000 and $16,000.

Mr Sule responded the planner and senior planner's costs were "quite high''at $6795 and $1335 respectively, as was the cost of drafting the decision, $4006.

He said Mr Eddy had raised good points on the council's communication.

"It obviously wasn't good communication, I accept that.''

However it was hard to stop costs accruing when a process had to be followed.

Mr Sule left the issue in the committee's hands, recommending it make the decision after hearing Mr Eddy's concerns.

Cr Noone adjourned the meeting so the committee could make that decision, and indicated the result would be known before long.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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