Staff set to handle jump in consents
Steps are being taken to ensure red tape does not hold up Christchurch's rebuild as the number of building consents being lodged with the city council steadily rises.
Consents staff from local authorities around the South Island are being prepped to help process building applications lodged with the city council so that if there is a sudden wave of activity there are no bureaucratic bottlenecks.
"We will have waves of responsiveness that we will be able to deploy," city council building operations manager Ethan Stetson said.
In recent weeks there has been a significant jump in the number of building consents lodged..
In the past week, the council has received 170 applications for building consents - a 28 per cent jump on the 133 it received the previous week. That is an average of 34 consent applications per working day - a healthy increase on about 30 applications the council was receiving a day in June.
Stetson said the increase was an encouraging sign, but it was likely Christchurch would experience a long, gradual increase in building activity rather than a sudden, dramatic surge.
He said that while the release of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan had provided some clarity on the shape and size of the new city centre, there was still a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace.
There were many unanswered questions, which meant developers were taking a cautious approach to projects.
Until some of the issues were resolved, the number of consent applications, for commercial projects in particular, was likely to fluctuate.
Stetson said the number of people seeking pre-consent meetings with the council was steadily increasing, which suggested a lot of big projects were in the pipeline.
"There are lots of people who are rounding on their projects. They haven't got the consents in yet but they are certainly talking about them."
He said the council was working towards having consent applications for projects valued at less than $150,000 processed in five days or less, while the target for projects valued at between $150,000 and $500,000 was 10 days or less.
The target for processing big consent applications was 20 days or less.
The council was "a whisper off" meeting those targets, but Stetson said he was confident they would soon be hitting them consistently.
Across Canterbury as a whole, building consents worth nearly $1 billion were approved in the first half of this year, almost as much as the $1.2b approved over the whole of last year.
Statistics New Zealand says that of the consents issued in the first six months of 2012, $404 million were for non-residential building work such as factories, offices and industrial buildings.
Since September 4, 2010, there have been more than 2200 Canterbury earthquake-related consents identified, totalling $473m.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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