Council defends plan to hike fees

LOIS CAIRNS AND HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014

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The Christchurch City Council has defended its proposed new fee structure for building consents, saying improved service comes at a cost.

Under changes councillors are considering including in the draft 2014/15 Annual Plan, the minimum application fees for residential and commercial building work will rise significantly.

However, the proposed new minimum fees will include the cost of a set number of site inspections for which the council currently charges applicants separately - at a rate of $148 per inspection.

Figures released yesterday by the council to clarify its proposed new charging regime showed a new base charge for residential building projects worth between $100,000 and $300,000 of $3310, which includes the cost of eight inspections.

If the cost of eight inspections is added to the current base charge the difference is $400, or 14 per cent.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the proposal to increase consenting fees by an average of 16 per cent was discussed at a workshop on the council's draft Annual Plan but had yet to be adopted.

If councillors did decide to include it in the draft Annual Plan there would be opportunities for the public to give their feedback.

"The proposal came forward to council because there is a cost for gearing up for the increased volume of consents that the council is expecting to receive as a result of the rebuild.

The improved systems being put in place should lead to efficiencies and so minimise the cost increases required," Dalziel said.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said yesterday he had asked for a full report from the Crown Manager on the rationale for the increases in the building consent fees, given that building new properties would itself increase the council's revenue.

"As you are seeing such a huge replacement of housing stock in Christchurch, the rates that are levied against the properties are going to significantly increase," Brownlee said.

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