Consent ‘took 61 days’


A frustrated developer says nightmare consent delays are costing him thousands of dollars a day - and might be putting others off building here.

Work has ground to a halt on Lew Gdanitz’s $10 million, 54-room hotel site in Queenstown’s Henry Street.

The local Mipad Holdings boss says it took Queenstown’s council 61 working days to issue a building consent - he applied on February 5 and got consent last Friday.

It’s been a “bloody nightmare”, he says, costing between $12,000 and $15,000 a day in overheads and lost revenue.

The Henry St hotel halt is a symptom of a wider problem.

Queenstown’s council is in danger of losing its consenting powers if it can’t prove to a Crown auditor by next Friday that its service is up to scratch.

Gdanitz now wishes he hadn’t started the project and reckons no new hotels will be built in the resort in the next five years, despite the demand.

Council building boss Stewart Geddes says Gdanitz’s calculations ignore the processing and it’s more like 30 days - still well past the 20-day maximum.

“The working day clock stops when we ask for further information from the developer.”

Gdanitz’s gripe is the council’s “unreasonable” attitude which, he says, is costing him thousands of dollars in lost revenue and overheads.

“What concerns me is that just about every developer that comes to Queenstown goes broke, now I can start to see the reasons why. You get no help from council.”

He went to the top - seeking a meeting with new council boss Mike Theelen to discuss problems faced by Queenstown developers. It didn’t help.

Gdanitz’s biggest frustration is it took 18 days before the council assigned an independent contractor to the case.

“It wrote to us and said there was nobody senior enough in the council to process the building consent. It knew from day one - why didn’t council send it up to an independent contractor at that point?”

Geddes admits council is under the cosh but says it’s being addressed.

It lost two top building bods earlier this year and has struggled to recruit new staff.

The council wants to appoint six more people to the building consents team.

This excuse doesn’t wash with Gdanitz.

On top of council dawdling he thinks its charges are unfair.

He pays the council for a 40 square metre piece of land used during the build and has to stump up for using public carparking spaces.

At this point, Gdanitz isn’t sure if the development stacks up financially.

Building over the winter period will add to costs and could lead to further delays. At this stage he’d hoped the hotel would have reached ground level, rather than sitting idle.

What’s the solution? Council regime change, he says.

“I have a property in Queenstown and could put up accommodation for hundreds of people. Do you think I am even going to go there because of the anguish you have to go through?”