Council works to fix consents issue

The Christchurch City Council is still struggling to process building consents applications on time but is confident it will improve this month.

It last month granted 818 building consents but was only able to process 36 per cent of the commercial consents it received within the statutory time frame.

The council performed better on residential consents, processing 80 per cent in under 20 working days.

Overall, 75 per cent were processed within statutory time frames - 7 per cent lower than the previous month.

Council building control and city rebuild director Peter Sparrow said this was a significant improvement on November last year, when 39 per cent of all consents were processed on time.

Reasons for the 7 per cent drop included staff taking leave during school holidays, people needing to spend time with International Accreditation New Zealand (Ianz) assessors and new procedures being implemented.

Sparrow said the council was this month on track to achieve 90 per cent within statutory time frames.

An Ianz report this month issued the council with nine corrective action requests (CARs) and eight strong recommendations, which it will need to address before it can regain accreditation.

One of those requests was ensuring the council had sufficient employees and contractors to perform its building control functions in a timely manner.

"I am confident all CARs will be cleared by the end of the year, if not sooner," Sparrow told the council's regulation and consents committee yesterday.

He expected residential builds would be peaking in the first quarter of next year, while commercial consents would pour in steadily over a long period.

Cr Glenn Livingstone asked Sparrow whether the team's culture had improved in the last year.

Sparrow said there was a "different feeling" now. "They're really busy, they're under the gun and they are going through the same issues as the residents in the city," he said. "But, the team is feeling really upbeat."

Consent processing is also being outsourced, with a potential capacity to assist the council with 172 consents a week. An average of 60 consents a week were outsourced last month. Sparrow said the target from the end of June was 95 a week, which was met for a couple of weeks, but during July demand versus capacity to clear them reduced it back down to 60.

The Press