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Everybody loves good neighbours


3 April 2006

Everybody loves good neighbours

A new initiative from Auckland City means those living next door will soon be told before their neighbours, start on any major building work.

The good neighbour initiative, endorsed by Auckland City's Planning and Regulatory Committee at their meeting today, aims to inform neighbours early on in the building process of what is happening next door and what their rights are.

"Auckland City receives up to 1,000 requests each year from neighbours wanting information on building development work occurring near them," says Councillor Glenda Fryer, chairperson of the Planning and Regulatory Committee. "By informing these people when a building consent has been granted and before any major building work has begun, we can ensure there are no surprises for them."

Actions to support the good neighbour initiative include:

- a letter from Auckland City automatically sent to neighbouring properties where building works over the value of $200,000 on the adjacent property have been granted a building consent

- liaison with professional and trade associations to encourage good communication between builders and neighbours and responsible on-site management to ensure negative impacts of development are minimised

- introduction of a standard best practice policy for developers so that they discuss developments with neighbours prior to works commencing and become the first point of contact for any enquiries

- accessible information on Auckland City's website regarding conditions of work

- exploring the potential for specific building and resource consent information to be available to the public through Auckland City's website.

Where a proposed development infringes district plan rules, developers must apply for a resource consent. Where the effects of the proposal are more than minor, affected parties will be notified and have the opportunity to comment on it. However, in instances when only a building consent is required, and while this becomes a public record once approved, there is no legal obligation for the parties carrying on the activities to notify their neighbours of the proposed work. This can mean that it may only be once a building consent is granted and work is begun that neighbours first become aware that anything was proposed.

Building consents spell out conditions related to the activity, such as the hours during which building work is permitted and requirements for road and footpath use and reinstatement. With neighbours aware of the conditions, then all parties can be involved in monitoring and self-monitoring to ensure these conditions are followed and the negative impacts of construction are minimised.

"Many developers within Auckland city already practise good neighbour initiatives as part of their project management, to minimise delays on their projects," says Ms Fryer. "We hope that, with the introduction from council of this initiative, other developers will be motivated to ensure their practices are up to scratch as well."


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