Consents cop it but building’s great


People dealing with council’s resource consent processing arm have described it as “obstructive and excessively risk-averse”, a leaked report says. 

A consultation document on a proposed restructure contains heavy criticism of the way regulatory body Lakes Environmental – to be disestablished and brought in-house – handles resource consents. 

The report says applicants have been required to supply material for matters which aren’t relevant. 

“Issues raised include a description of the Lakes Environmental resource management culture that is obstructive and excessively risk-averse.” 

Feedback supported a view that staff lack appropriate judgement skills to determine which issues are truly significant and which aren’t. 

Compared nationally, the local consent application reject rate was high – and the report cites a commercial development in a commercial zone taking 22 months and $200,000 to process despite being relatively straightforward. 

Both LE and council policy and planning staff confirmed “strained” relationships, unhelpful for ensuring those processing consents have a clear understanding of how District Plan rules apply. 

However, the performance of Lakes Environmental’s building division earns “excellent” external feedback, while building consent processing times are acceptable and costs perceived as value for money. 

“…The division is well led, innovative and well-resourced with pragmatic and experienced people,” the report says of feedback.