Fears about fixed application price

The proposal to provide "more certainty" about the cost of resource consent applications by way of a fixed price will result in simple applications subsidising more complex ones, some submitters say.

On Friday, the Queenstown Lakes District Council heard public submissions on the proposal, and Matthew Suddaby, of C. Hughes and Associates, voiced several concerns, such as the guaranteed price being set too high.

He acknowledged price certainty would be beneficial, but as the costs would potentially rise for simple applications such as those for rural sheds and minor earthworks, people might proceed with developments without consent, he said.

"It's my opinion that the proposal will only benefit more complex applications," Mr Suddaby said.

Neil McDonald, speaking on behalf of Shotover Design Ltd, supported the idea in principle, but also said the fees charged were not appropriate.

Willowridge Developments Ltd development manager Allan Dippie said his company had a "love-hate relationship" with Lakes Environmental, the council's regulatory arm, because of the excessive and high fees.

"At the moment we feel like we don't want to apply for consents because it will be a flawed process," Mr Dippie said.

"You really have got a very inefficient model and a system that I think could do with a total overhaul." At the same meeting the council heard submissions on its replacement rates proposal, after anomalies were identified in August.

Submissions closed on October 10 and all but three submitters chose not to speak.

Despite a move to introduce greater equality, many submitters said they were unhappy with a perceived increase in their replacement rates.

Lindsay Williams, of Queenstown, said it was unfair higher-value residential and commercial properties paid "significantly higher rates than similar properties that use similar services", though his submission commended the council for the work it had done.

"[The] capital rating system discourages improvement of properties."

Conversely, others such as Clinton Gill, of Queenstown, wrote in full support of the proposal.

"[The] proposal outlines a fair and equitable distribution of rates, which enables the council to ensure the local Queenstown infrastructure is maintained in line with the 10-year plan."

The new rates proposal would see a reduction to the recreation and events, regulatory and governance rates and the creation of two fixed-charge rates: recreation and events and regulatory and governance.

Under the proposal, the percentage of properties where rates rose or fell 20% would reduce from 14.6% to 7.9%.

Reports considering submissions regarding both the resource consent fixed-fees proposal and the replacement rates proposal would be discussed at the next full council meeting on October 30.

 In a bid to control the effects of freedom camping, the council adopted an amended bylaw which allows the council to prohibit freedom camping in areas if they are being abused by campers.

The council would be accepting submissions on the Freedom Camping Bylaw 2011 until November 21 before a hearing scheduled for November 26.

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