Nelson lacks land for housing - builders

More land should be made available for homes in Nelson to help counter a sharp drop in residential building consents, says an industry leader.

Building consent applications to the Nelson City Council in the financial year ending in June totalled 713, compared to 844 in the 2012-13 year.

In particular, applications for residential properties fell from 225 to 144.

Part of the fall was due to a spike in home alterations in 2012-13 following the 2011 floods.

However, Nelson Registered Master Builders Association president Andrew Stevenson said one of the reasons for the drop in housing consents was because of the limited amount of land available to build on.

He said the industry was feeling the pinch. "Everyone's only just getting through on the numbers that we are doing," he said of the city's residential builders.

Stevenson said fast-tracking the release of more land to developers would help.

The council's planning and regulatory committee received a report last Thursday showing the dip in consents.

A report to the committee said that during the last financial year the total estimated value of work for submitted building consent applications was $98,657,283 - down 22 per cent on the estimated value of work in the previous year.

Committee chairman Brian McGurk said there was a variety of reasons for the fall in residential building consents, including a lack of available land and the Reserve Bank's restrictions on first-home buyers.

Despite fewer consents being applied for, the council's building unit still increased its earnings, as there were more multiple-dwelling developments.

The council is trying to make its consents system more efficient by moving to an electronic system for applications. It has also simplified consent charges, using fixed fees so there are no surprise extra costs.

However, it has been struggling to find staff for its building unit because of competition with the Christchurch rebuild.

Consent applications for new commercial buildings increased to eight in the last financial year, compared to four in 2012-13, and there was no change in consents for alterations to commercial properties.

Building consent applications to the Tasman District Council remained steady during the last financial year, while the Marlborough District Council saw a slight increase. The New Plymouth District Council saw a similar dip in residential consents to Nelson's.

Building control group leader at the Marlborough council, Bill East, said the flow of applications was "pretty steady".

"I would say there has been a slight pick-up in residential dwellings, very slight, but the noticeable thing is that square metre area is increasing."

The Nelson Mail