Consent process delays defended

The Dunedin City Council's building consent processing times have again broken through a 20-day limit, after what staff say is a spike in applications, and staff issues.

But the council has denied there is dysfunction in the department.

Acting services and development general manager Nicola Pinfold said 14% of applications took longer to process than the statutory 20-day limit.

The longest was 31 days.

The council struggled to keep processing times down earlier this year, leaving builders and developers frustrated and angry.

Ms Pinfold was responding to an allegation from a Dunedin developer, who asked for his name to be withheld, who said the department was ''in disarray'', consent times were at 28 days, and three staff members had resigned.

Ms Pinfold dismissed most of those suggestions.

She said the council had a spike in the number of applications over a two-week period.

Applications jumped from the usual 30-40, to 58-60 one week, ''which is a massive differential for the team to cope with''.

''The fact is we cannot control our incoming workload, but this is a problem which all building control authorities face.

''The other reason is that this coincided with two staff being off sick or on leave.''

Ms Pinfold said three staff had resigned recently, although that was not out of the ordinary for a team of 36.

One had gone for an ''OE'', one was promoted internally and one transferred to Civil Defence to take up a new role.

All would be replaced and one new staff member had already been appointed.

She said there were plans to address the processing timing issues.

As had been done in the past, the council would use other local authorities to assist with the overflow in applications, and some staff were working overtime to try to clear the backlog.

''We have also decided to transfer some of the inquiries to our customer services agency to free up the building services staff.''

A meeting was held yesterday to brief customer services staff on the change.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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