ICNZ can't rule out Chch demolitions

MARC GREENHILL AND MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Last updated 14:29 03/07/2013

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Christchurch buildings constructed using faulty council consents may have to be demolished, the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) says.

International Accreditation New Zealand (Ianz) this week said it would revoke the council's consents accreditation on July 8, prompting a council and Government scramble to ensure consents can continue to be issued in the rebuilding city. 

The council had granted consents that Ianz found ''did not meet the requirements of the Building Code''.

ICNZ insurance manager John Lucas said today that the Ianz revelations were ''quite startling''.

Recently consented buildings should be audited on a case-by-case basis by an independent authority, he said.

''If insurers have started work on developing a new property, rebuilding a house or repairing a house, and then partway through that construction period there's a delay because they find out later the building consent was issued incorrectly, then that's going to stop that project,'' Lucas said.

''It may cost the parties a lot of money because the project may have to be demolished and rebuilt, or there may be some very expensive remediation costs involved.''

Non-compliant foundations were the most likely to be an issue, he said.

The revised consenting system needed to be ''robust'' and not further delay construction work, Lucas said.

''It's just another complication no-one really needed,'' he said.

A crown manager has been put in place today to oversee the Christchurch City Council's consents department.

A planned meeting with four government ministers this afternoon has been cancelled.

Instead at a special meeting at the Council tomorrow a resolution will be put to invite the Minister for Local Government, Chris Tremain, to put in place a Crown manager to oversee the council's consents department.

Following the meeting, councillors will meet with the Minister who will discuss the terms of reference for the manager.

Mayor Bob Parker said today it was "crucial that the community and the Government have complete confidence in the robustness of the consents process which is vital for the city's rebuild".

"The situation around building consents is serious, and it has become apparent that councillors have not been well served by the information that has been provided to us."

Ianz revoked the council's accreditation for issuing building consents after a string of failings.

Among the most serious were concerns that the council has been issuing consents for buildings that could put people and property at risk.

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