Chch council will meet consents deadline: Parker

Bob Parker.
Bob Parker.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is adamant his council will meet a two-week deadline to speed up its consenting process, as the Government threatens to step in if it does not.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has said the time has come for the Government to take urgent action to address the city council's "repeated inability" to meet statutory time-frames for processing building consents.

The drastic measure comes after the council was sent a letter from International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) on May 30.

It gives the council until June 28 to improve consenting processes or lose accreditation as a building consent authority.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, Mr Parker was adamant the council would sort the issue out.

"Yes we'll get to the deadline but not because we've got a rocket from the minister ... we've been working on this for well over a year and we're going to get there."

Mr Parker said there was not a council in the country that got all its consents done in the statutory timeframe.

"The February 2011 earthquake exacerbated already existing problems with processes and time-frames with building consents.

"In supporting the rebuild of the city, Christchurch has experienced an unprecedented demand for building consents, and we knew we had a big job ahead of us to meet that demand. We've been working on ramping up our processes and systems to handle this huge influx and keep the rebuild moving."

Mr Brownlee and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson are now working on a contingency plan for implementation ahead of the IANZ deadline of June 28 for a decision to be made on whether the council maintains its building consent authority accreditation.

The council received an average of 35 building applications a day in March and April, according to the agenda from this month's planning committee meeting; a workload which led council officers to report: "We have seen backlogs develop across all process steps - from pre-processing initial data entry through processing and into typing. The sheer volume exceeds capacity, and applicants are expressing a significant level of concern at this."

Mr Brownlee said: "The council knew this workload was coming and hasn't adequately addressed it".

"We can't let that continue, and will be discussing the Government's approach with councillors soon."

Christchurch property owner Ernest Duval, who is also a spokesman for the City Owners Rebuild Entity, told Radio New Zealand the council needed to "pull its finger out, big time".

"There needs to be a sense of urgency: we have a $40 billion rebuild and we can't start unless we have a building consent."

Mr Duval said the Government was doing the right thing by threatening to step in, and it must have a contingency plan should the council fail to sort the problem out.

"This has been ongoing for some months now. The City Council has been put on notice about this and the Government is well within its rights to call time on it because it is so fundamentally important for Christchurch to get these consents processed in a timely manner."


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