Consent fee subsidy discussed

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Waiving fees for Gore District resource consents for heritage buildings has passed its first hurdle.

The item was on the council’s policy and regulatory committee meeting agenda held on Tuesday.

Committee members accepted the recommendations money be set aside in the budget to waive the fees for non-notified or limited notified building consents and the proposal be included in the draft long-term plan for community feedback.

Gore District Council interim chief executive Stephen Parry said at present there were 30 buildings listed in the district plan.

However, in the proposed district plan which was open to submissions until November 27 there was an increase in the number.

While subject to change during the submitting process there were now 87 buildings listed.

Scenarios which would lead to the heritage owners seeking a resource consent could be buildings that needed seismic strengthening work, modernising or a change of business use.

"All of these scenarios involve consenting fees."

Property owners who had structures scheduled as being worthy of protection via the istrict plan have additional obligations and restrictions in how they can alter and utilise the property.

"These obligations and restrictions are imposed for the benefit of the wider community in regard to preserving heritage values that are deemed to be desirable."

Therefore, it appeared reasonable the community support the property owners via waiving any consenting fees that might be incurred in preserving the heritage values of the buildings concerned.

If the owner was to apply for a consent to demolish the building the waiver would not apply.

He suggested the fee waiving applied to non-notified or limited-notified applications.

The fee would still apply for notified resource consents.

"This can be a costly process and may also involve disparate views within the community about the merits of what is being proposed."

Mr Parry recommended in his report if $25,000 was set aside annually that should be sufficient.

"There appears to be only one or two projects on average received each year in regard to building consents associated with heritage structures."

He also recommended the proposed consent fee waiver for heritage structures be included in the draft long term plan for community feedback.

During the discussion Cr Bronwyn Reid asked if it was only business property owners who would be affected.

Consultant planner Katrina Ellis said under the present district plan it was only business properties but under the proposed plan residential properties could also be included.

Ms Ellis said about 50 residential owners would be affected.

Cr Keith Hovell asked if the fee money should carry over to the next year if it was not used.

Mr Parry said it was his expectation the fee money could accumulate if not used.

Mayor Ben Bell said he thought it was a good idea to waive the fees especially as many of the buildings needed earthquake strengthening.

"Any incentive to try and get those buildings up to scratch is a good thing."

By Sandy Eggleston