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Building Consent Delays Cause Industry Slump

03 April 2006

Building Consent Delays Cause Industry Slump

By Colin Hill - Past President Architectural Designer NZ

The failure of local bodies to issue building consents within 20 days as set down in the new Building Act is fuelling an industry slowdown.

Colin Hill, the immediate past president of Architectural Designers New Zealand, slammed local authorities for the huge backlog of consent applications lodged that are not being processed within the statutory period. ADNZ is the professional body representing architectural designers throughout New Zealand.

"You can speak to any architectural designer, builder or group housing company and they will tell of numerous cases of building projects that have been postponed or put off indefinitely because of the unacceptably high level of costly delays by local bodies in the processing of consents."

Hill's comments follow the recent High Court decision in Christchurch to dismiss an application for a mandamus order that would have forced Selwyn District Council to issue building consents within the statuary 20 days as required by the Building Act.

"This court outcome was extremely disappointing to all building practitioners who are frustrated, not just with Selwyn District Council, but all other local bodies whose failures to meet the requirements of the Building Act are having devastating effects on the building industry," he said.

"The Selwyn District Council is still sitting on a pile of consent applications. It must be assumed that someone else's consent was put aside while Selwyn processed the one in dispute. So some other consent is now even further behind."

Hill said draft guidelines prepared by the Department of Building and Housing, and recently issued for industry comment, clearly state that all local bodies should have sufficient employees to undertake their statutory functions under the Building Act and that staff are competent to undertake any allocated work.

"The Selwyn District Council and other similar authorities need to engage more competent staff, recognise the skills needed for the job and pay the going rate.

"The Selwyn District Council may well welcome the decision by the High Court' and be feeling 'immense relief' but what assurances does it offer to the industry that it will sharpen up its act? The Council's response falls well short of giving us the confidence that its performance will improve any time soon," Hill said.


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