Consents hitman making progress

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 08:01 29/11/2013
Doug Martin
Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ
WORKING ON EFFICIENCY: Crown manager Doug Martin wants consents processed quicker.

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The Christchurch City Council is still taking too long to process building consents, but the government fix-it man believes the organisation can turn the situation around.

Last month, the average time for granting a building consent for a house was 26 days - the statutory time frame is 20 days.

Applications where the council needed additional information were taking 47 working days.

Crown manager Doug Martin said he wanted consents processed quicker, especially where applications were suspended for reasons that could be easily fixed with a phone call.

"I'm not saying that the turnaround time is anywhere near acceptable but we have held our own over the last little while."

In July and August it took an average of 39 days, and in September it was 41 days.

Martin expected that would speed up as more consents were outsourced and more staff were hired.

"We are doing all sorts of different things [to improve processes]. It's taken several months to lay the foundations and they will start to really kick in early in the new year."

Martin said the council outsourced about 50 consents a week to seven Building Consent Authorities (BCAs), but expected this to increase to 200 a week with 18 BCAs by the end of March next year.

Forecasts suggest that the council can expect to receive between 300 and 400 building consent applications each week for the next two years with most related to residential projects as the home repair and rebuild programme moves into full swing.

In October, a building consent for a new commercial building took an average of 45 working days where no further information was required, but averaged an additional 21 working days if more information was needed.

Martin said the figures for one month did do not show a trend, but it was important that people were given an indication of how long their building consent application might take.

"You can either applaud us if it's going down or box us around the ears if it's going up," he said. "These figures show what the council is achieving at a time when it is experiencing a tsunami of demand for building consents."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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