Christchurch council 'needs to lift game'

Last updated 15:55 08/07/2014
Nick Smith
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
NICK SMITH: Environment Minister.

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Housing Minister Nick Smith says Christchurch council's consent systems still fall short of national standards.

His visit to the city to inspect housing projects today put more heat on the council to process consents faster and also meet its commitments in the Christchurch Housing Accord with the government.

Next Tuesday, the council will consider supporting emergency accommodation for the city's homeless. Smith said he was open-minded about this but wanted the council to think hard about its full set of priorities.

''I would lay the gauntlet down to the Christchurch City Council, to say that the number one priority for them is to get up to pace on their own stock of social housing. At the moment they are behind both Housing New Zealand and ... the private sector. The best thing the council can do right now to assist the housing problem, is to get stuck in and get their own housing stock in good nick.''

The council needed to lift its game around community housing, Smith said.

''I am very encouraged by the progress the council is making with the housing accord, but if I was the council I would say its first duty it to get their own housing stock fixed. They've got a big job ahead in that regard and they need to put maximum time and resources into progressing that.''

Smith was still concerned about Christchurch people having trouble getting compliance certificates to build in the city.

The consenting team, led by Crown manager Doug Martin, had worked hard to improve the council's service but Smith wanted the council to keep working hard on becoming an accredited consent authority again - and on getting more people into new homes more quickly.

From tomorrow the council will have its systems audited by International Accreditation New Zealand in the hope of regaining the consenting status it lost last year.

"I'm continuously keeping my ear to the ground in Christchurch on areas such as the concerns I've heard this morning (during housing site visits) on the timeframes for getting code compliance certificates", Smith said.

Anecdotal evidence indicated housing consents and code compliance certificates were being issued faster "but they are not yet at the levels of service performance that would match up with the rest of the country."

Smith accepted the council was dealing with a record build rate for the city of about 12 homes a day.

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"Christchurch City typically runs at about four per day ... so jut that level of activity is putting that system under enormous pressure."

However, resolving issues like processing times was really important, Smith said.

"The lack of a code compliance means that I have got new, warm dry homes ready to be occupied that are sitting around for weeks because I haven't got a code of compliance certificate. That is why I have an interest in putting pressure on to improve that performance."

- The Press

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