Delays over consents could hit QLDC

The consenting powers of the beleaguered Queenstown Lakes District Council could be under threat.

A building boom, combined with a staff shortage, means the council is struggling to meet statutory maximum times for issuing building consents.

It has called an extraordinary meeting for Friday to discuss an International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) assessment report into the council's building consent authority accreditation.

A media briefing will be held in Queenstown today.

The council refused to release the IANZ report to the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

Rebecca Pitts, a communications adviser in chief executive Mike Theelen's office, said: "The agenda for the extraordinary meeting has not yet been distributed to elected members - they get it two clear working days prior.''

When pressed she said: "The councillors are aware of its contents.''

IANZ, an autonomous Crown entity, stripped the Christchurch City Council of its building consent powers in 2013 over concerns with lengthy delays and poor-quality work.

Crown manager Doug Martin was appointed to oversee building consents until the Christchurch council regained its accreditation 16 months later.

Last month, the Queenstown Lakes council revealed 114 of 421, or 27%, of building consents issued in the district up until April 19 this year were not signed off within the 20-day statutory maximum.

Two years ago, IANZ demanded the council take several corrective actions, including updating its policies, undertaking training and auditing its performance, before accreditation was continued.

Councils have to be registered as building consent authorities under the Building Act.

IANZ chief executive Llewellyn Richards confirmed a report into the Queenstown Lakes council had been written and it was still accredited.

"There is a process that we go through and every council has to be reassessed, at the most, every two years.''

He would not confirm the contents of the latest report, or whether he had demanded corrective actions.

Dr Richards said: "We never comment on an accreditation body's processes.''

Speaking generally, he said if an assessment identified serious issues, the body would insist on a short-term reassessment to ensure issues were addressed.

"If they were unable to address those issues comprehensively, then we would say you basically don't meet the requirements of accreditation.''

If the council was not able to prove it met the requirements, a 30-day notice to revoke a council's accreditation could be issued, after which came a formal notice to revoke.

Expected at today's Queenstown Lakes council media briefing are chief executive Mike Theelen, planning and development general manager Tony Avery and building services manager Stewart Geddes.

david.williams@odt.co.nz

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