Consents still on go-slow


Queenstown council’s processing of building consents still isn’t up to scratch.

Crown auditors, International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ), sent the council a wake-up call after their audit in early April.

Ten “corrective actions” and four “strong recommendations” needed hammering out if the council wanted to keep its accreditation to issue housing consents.

In a report to last Wednesday’s council meeting, councillor Cath Gilmour says “good” progress has been made on the 10 corrective actions with seven being cleared and two waiting further review.

But processing consents within the required 20-day period is proving an ongoing problem.

Council figures provided to Mountain Scene show of 152 building consents processed last month, 52 per cent were issued in 20 days.

That’s a significant increase since May, when only 29 per cent made it. Gilmour has faith the upward pattern will continue.

Her report says the issue of timely processing remains “open, subject to a satisfactory assessment outcome in October” - when IANZ will make a full reassessment.

The two unsolved corrective actions are over compliance schedules and staff supervision. The council had until yesterday to have them cleared.

Although IANZ had “significant concern” about the council’s ability to deal with an escalating number of consents, it threw the council a lifeline.

An action plan was created by the council and accepted by IANZ in May.

Council planning boss Tony Avery in June, having to work through the corrective actions was “impacting on our ability to deal with our consenting load”.

Admin staff were checking applications and processing simpler ones, four external consultants were contracted to process the consents and overtime hours were being clocked up.

Also in June, building services boss Stewart Geddes said a nationwide shortage of qualified people, sought after by other councils, meant finding staff was a task in itself.