Council struggles to issue consents on time


Queenstown’s council says it’s being forced to hire outside contractors to stay on top of building consents, as it struggles to meet statutory minimums.

Building services manager Stewart Geddes says the number of building consent applications in the district is already up by 30 per cent this year.

Between January 1 and April 19, 421 building consents were issued in the district – of which 114 were issued on or after the maximum 20 days.

During the same period last year, the council issued 381 building consents, with just eight issued outside the statutory timeframe.

Geddes says the average processing time is 19 days, but it is “inevitable” the 20-day requirement will not be met in many cases due to increasing demand and a shortage of staff.

At present there are 17 building control staff at the council. They are helped by external contractors who worked an average of 200 hours a month. During peak periods, external contractors work for up to 400 hours a month.

Appeals to other councils to help out have drawn only “minimal” assistance.

“We are hiring more external building contractors to process consents and actively trying to recruit more staff, but this is a sector-wide problem that is not easy to address.”

To minimise delays, the council will be beefing up its building processing and inspection regime to meet the ballooning demand from builders and developers.

The council will soon offer Saturday morning inspections in Queenstown and an extra inspector will be on the road to reduce the waiting time.

At present it takes an average of five days for an inspector to be available for a routine inspection. The council aims to reduce that to one working day “as soon as possible”.

Otago Daily Times