Christchurch consenting

June 13th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Nicole Mathewson at The Press reports:

Christchurch city councillors will head into a crisis meeting next week after learning the council is on the brink of losing the power to grant consents.

Yesterday, Earthquake Recovery Minister revealed the council was sent a letter from International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) on May 30, which said it had until June 28 to improve its processes or it would be stripped of its accreditation as a building consent authority.

The letter is here. You would have thought that Councillors would immediately be informed of such a serious development.

It is of huge concern that the Council can not even meet its legal requirements for , which is why it has provisionally been told it will lose this power.

Again this makes me wonder about the monumental lack of judgement it shows in some politicians who have spent three years saying that the Council should have more power, and the Government less power in the rebuild. Such slogans sound good, but the consequences could be severe. If the Council is unable to even meet its core remaining responsibilities, how do we think things would have gone if they were in charge of the overall rebuild?

Councillors were unaware of the letter.


Brownlee told The Press last night that it was “utterly appalling” councillors had not been told about IANZ’s warning before he published the letter yesterday.

“It shows there’s a culture problem in the council or at least this part of the council. This is very serious and no-one should attempt to downplay it.

“What annoys me a bit here is I’ve been asking about this for some time … but I’m continually told everything’s well, everything’s fine.”

Problems had been identified with the council’s building consent authority during a routine assessment by IANZ in October 2009, and in November last year an audit identified 17 failings in the way the council performed its building control functions.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had become involved with the council several times since February 2010 to offer support and advice.

“It seems as soon as they walk out, everything falls back into the old ways. At the moment we’re not in a good space,” Brownlee said.

Consenting work would fall to other councils if Christchurch did lose its accreditation, he said.

This would not necessarily be a bad thing.

Any consenting would still be done in accordance with the plans, policies and rules set down by the . It would just be the staff of another Council who would issue consents in accordance with those rules.

I actually think there is considerable merit in allowing Councils to compete with each other in offering consenting services in a region. The body that sets down the rules doesn’t need to be the body that does the consenting.

UPDATE: Good to see the Council taking it so seriously:

Mr Parker says the Government needs to cut the under-resourced council some slack. It has taken on extra staff, and currently has 120 people processing applications.

“There’s something of a huge overreaction going on here – it’s a bit like, as far as I can see, we’ve been given a parking ticket for an event that’s taking place in two weeks’ time that we weren’t going to anyway, and if we were, we’d take the bus.

Parker thinks a provisional loss of accreditation to issue consents is like a parking ticket?

You know if I lived in Christchurch, I think I might actually vote for Lianne.

27 Responses to “Christchurch consenting”

  1. Manolo (22,056 comments) says:

    Layers and layers of non-performing bureaucrats led by clueless politicians. A sure recipe for disaster.

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  2. tvb (5,517 comments) says:

    There is something very disfunctional with the CCC. recently we had Margaret Bazley issue a broadside. While I do not like her confrontational style i am confident she has grounds for her comments. Then today we had Gerry Brownless express his concerns. It seems he does not bother to communicate with Parker who seems to live in a fantasy world.

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  3. flipper (5,300 comments) says:

    This surely cannot be the same idiot, stupid, fascist Christchurch City Council that is attempting to require the owner of a new supermarket development to install a FILTRATION system, capable of handling ALL the rain water -run-off from the proposed sealed car park.

    According to information conveyed to me, the owner has said:

    “Get stuffed”. When you put filters on ALL of your roads, I will put them on my car park. Until you have done that, bugger off!”

    And that fuckwit Parker and his fuckwit boss , Marryatt, think they are suitable to run a city rebuild.

    Lord help Christchurch, and give Gerry the strength ( we know he has the size) to put them in their place.

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  4. bhudson (4,770 comments) says:

    So the Councillors were unaware of the letter? All of them? Including dear Bobbie Parker?

    Has Marryatt stopped working with him as well?

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  5. peterwn (4,287 comments) says:

    The letter should have been sent under the signature of the CEO of the accreditation authority to the Christchurch City Council CEO (but not to the Mayor). It required immediate CEO action, it was arguably the most important letter received by the Council that day. It was a far too important letter to be sent from and to a subordinate official. If I was in that official’s shoes, I would have passed the letter up the food chain for a high level signature and dispatch. I might be old fashioned, but the salutation should have been the receipient’s job title, not christian name.

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  6. Rich Prick (2,923 comments) says:

    Losing its powers would probably be a good thing for the folk of Christchruch. The leaky buildings disaster happened in a benign environment, imagine the havoc Council jobsworths would bring under stress.

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  7. RRM (12,581 comments) says:

    Is L’Oreal Man, Tony because I’m worth it Maryatt still running CCC?

    Because if his building consents and licensing department is not capable of competently doing it’s job, a “Sir please explain” request to him would be in order wouldn’t it?

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  8. doggone7 (1,657 comments) says:

    It was helpful in understanding the situation to hear a lengthy interview on the radio. Fortunately most people didn’t hear it so can continue to enjoy their hysteria attack for the day. Not that having more information would have stopped them anyway.

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  9. doristhedarkelf (2 comments) says:

    Not sure why this article is tagged RMA when it relates to building consents and not resource consents.

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  10. Alan Wilkinson (2,435 comments) says:

    I wish the Government had the votes and gumption to state the obvious that all these problems are not simply local but national. The solution to both this and the Auckland housing problems is to restore property rights and remove the throttling hand of bureaucratic regulation from citizens’ throats.

    Not just in Auckland and Christchurch but everywhere.

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  11. Kleva Kiwi (415 comments) says:

    So is CCC with-holding consents considered blue balling?

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  12. wf (761 comments) says:

    Brownlee: “What annoys me a bit here is I’ve been asking about this for some time … but I’m continually told everything’s well, everything’s fine.”

    Novopay? Seems a familiar story.

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  13. GPT1 (2,156 comments) says:

    You know if I lived in Christchurch, I think I might actually vote for Lianne.
    I do and I will not be voting for Parker. At this stage that leaves Dalziel as the only credible choice.

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  14. Paulus (3,567 comments) says:

    Are we now beginning to see that very highly paid Public Servants are being held responsible for their incompetence.

    Or, in Christchurch are they waiting for Lianne Dalziel and Jim Anderton, and two ex left wing Mayors, to bail them out.

    It looks that along with the Education Ministry there are a number of these very highly paid Public Servants who are not up to their jobs.

    Many of these jobs pay in excess of any New Zealand Prime Minister salary.

    I would expect in the next year or so we will see a number of others running for cover – not me I need more money for more staff in my empire.

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  15. campit (480 comments) says:

    It was reported this morning that the first Bob Parker heard about Gerry Brownlee’s intervention was through the media. If Brownlee sincerely wants to work constructively with the Council, would it not have been good form for Gerry to pick up the phone and talk to Bob first and try and resolve the issue that way?

    Also I’d like to see some hard data about what the backlog of consents is currently, what the expected turnaround time is, and the specific KPI Gerry is concerned about.

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  16. PaulD (97 comments) says:

    “Consenting work would fall to other councils if Christchurch did lose its accreditation, he (Brownlee) said.”

    On Nat Radio Sue Wells said other councils were already being used to help with the backlog. How much capacity is there?

    What does Brownlee intend to do- give Joyce another job?

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  17. jackkerouacsnephew (27 comments) says:

    When Ecan Regional Council was axed many of us were amazed.
    It turned out to be about milk, and water not dysfunction and ineptitude. There was some recovery occurring

    The real failures were and always have been within the Peoples Republic Christchurch City.
    These people would tell you how to jump through hoops to get a building consent for a dog kennel.
    Sue Wells kept a copy of the RMA on her bedside table, and it had yellow underlines on the various ways of making life difficult for home and business owners.
    She was reading it back to front, we know that now , and she and the conservatives were deeply entrenched in rule books
    and planning the peoples lives for them.
    Then along came Bob. His very first action was one of deceit and malfeasance. After saying that Council should spend no more than 80 million on Council Chambers he rushed through a purchase of the old post office building which was languishing and nobody wanted.
    He paid Ngai Tahu about $80 million upfront in urgency before Councillors were at the table, and booked us in for a lease of another $80 million at around 15%.
    It was the start of a grandiose and some what loopy [ think railway trains ] new Mayors term in office, and soon the public were in awe of how utterly incompetent this Council is.
    And it has never got better . We can not blame Parker and Marryat for everything. The staff are utterly immersed within the republic and are intransigent
    Lianne Dalziel is not the answer . Tim Carter could do the job, but the chalice is poison.
    Paul Scott

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  18. Viking2 (14,374 comments) says:

    35 consents a day required. FFS that’s a power of work. IF someone fucks up and gives a consent that later fails its CHCH council that carries the can. e.g. look at the leaky fiasco where the ratepayers everywhere are paying for Govt’s crappy legislation.

    If The bully is going to cause issues like this then it’s entirely fair that he also personally carries the can for failed consented work. After all he’s a builder so he should know.
    the alternative is the you and me the ratepayer and taxpayer will get slugged once more.

    even Auckland can’t consent that many a day, safley.

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  19. freethinker (776 comments) says:

    Provided Tina Donald passed this letter to her appropriate manager on receipt it would be unreasonable to blame her for any delay or lack of knowledge as to the impact, I do wonder however if the apparent familiarity between the parties indicates there was some prior indication of action. It is critical that the audit trail of the letter be established if only to ascertain who and why this was delayed from being actioned by the CEO and being communicated to Councilors who are responsible for Governance .

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  20. lastmanstanding (1,727 comments) says:

    LOL one government organization threatening another local government organization with taking away their toys.

    But seriously folks to illustrate the fundamental problems we have in NZ I recently wanted to extend the deck on my house from 2metres wide to 4 metres wide.

    Building materials cost $8000. Labout cost $5000. Consents planning drawings ( you would think I was wanting construct a 10 storey building) cost…………………………………………………..wait for it TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.

    And that’s where the basic problems are.

    Red tape gone berserk after the screw up of the leaky buildings that any competent chippie knew was gonna happen.

    Until we get these arseholes in central and local Gumint to grow a common sense brain that none of them have at present we will keep seeing the shambles continue.

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  21. Alan Wilkinson (2,435 comments) says:

    @viking2, the simple solution is what the Government should have done over a decade ago, and legislated that Councils are responsible only for building health and safety. Quality and durability is the responsibility of the buyer and seller to assess and price. Designers and builders could be required to insure their work if necessary.

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  22. somewhatthoughtful (494 comments) says:

    So while all you idiots are crowing to take it away, who the fuck is going to do the work? I mean seriously, Gerry throws his toys, but then also complains about rates rises. I have a way to fix this: hire a shitload more staff and pass the bill back to the Govt. They can’t have it both ways and this isn’t normal operations. Of course, given it’s not normal, I’d have expected the council to staff up, but by all accounts they have. If the govt. want to fund more processors I’m sure the council would happily accept the money.

    Gerry, once again is all bullshit no action. Much like his entire political career (well, to be fair, apart from when he signed himself into his current dictatorship role).

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  23. jaba (2,181 comments) says:

    don’t worry CHCH Lia anne Dalziel just told Duncan Garner she has been asked to stand for mayor

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  24. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    Many of the consents are routine and simple especially for people like red zoners seeking to rebuild homes – the templates for approval are easily accessed and can be processed quickly. I heard horror story after horror story of delays on a visit to NZ in May – the issues were rarely lack of staffing but more that council staff clearly seem uninterested in using any acceration powers granted them under the CERA legislation. Having built apartments in Chch before I emigrated to the US I can attest to the economic consequencs of capricious consent changes and delays and that was well before the earthquakes. It’s the culture that is bad and not made any better by keeping on greedY Mr Marryiott.

    Many many people are having to make enormous sacrifices in Chch to keep life operating with some semblance of normality – it has been remarkable the resilience and innovation of so many small/medium business owners who survived against all the odds. Why can’t the CCC adapt and learn and get out of the way of the rebuild!

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  25. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    This is beyond staffing – if the staffing levels were doubled you’d still have the problems. It’s the attitude, the ideology, the hostility to developers, the mindset to oppose obstruct delay and defer. The RMA and Labour’s local government reforms giving councils the green light to waste rate payers money on social engineering and PC rubbish and not concentrate on core activities like ….consenting construction has not helped. Brownlee has called a spade a spade – there are councils in NZ that do the consenting stuff very well – they can sort out Christchurch’s backlog in a jiffy without extra staff. Shape up or ship out!

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  26. Reid (21,429 comments) says:

    Nah this is bullshit. The bully is throwing his massive weight around expecting everyone to kowtow and salute the mighty Gerry. Well fuck him. If I was Parker and the CEO I would take great delight in taking the fat bastard apart on national telly, which they can easily do, given that TV3 can’t wait to tear the Nats a new one on any issue whatsoever and as for SevenSharp, well you could sail a ship of shit past those three bimbos and they’d clap and cheer and wolfwhistle like it was perfume they’re so dumb. Easy. All you need is facts.

    And Williamson thoughtfully provided them as the CEO was being interviewed this morning by Katherine Ryan on her RadioNZ show, when he faxed Ryan some data intended to backup Fat Bastard but which actually is the key to winning this little battle that for some unknown reason Fat Bastard was so keen to start. That data said that CCC delivers consents within 20? days 75% of the time, when the target is 85%. Now Ryan being a journo didn’t pick it up and thought it was a major calamity as obviously did Williamson is why he faxed it to Ryan (in response to a powerful previous interview from Parker), but any operations specialist knows that being within 10% of a difficult target isn’t a calamity at all, in any way. A figure like a govt-admitted 75% is easily defended on Campbell Live and Bimbo City at Seven, and since Parker has TV persona down pat, he should be booking time in the ChCh studio as we speak. I really hope Fat Bastard takes one for this, as V2 says, he’s a bully and if anyone deserves it, he does. Not quite as much as McCully does, but almost.

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  27. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    Sorry mate you’re allowing your dislike of Brownlee to colour your judgement on this issue. Kathryn Ryan interviewed the owner of the Belgian Beer Cafe (an old favourite that used to be in the historic Provincial Council Chambers on Armagh St). His experience of needless questions asked a couple of days before the statutory 20 working day deadline has been repeated dozens of times across all sectors in Chch (developers, insurers trying to do rebuilds, red zoners trying to rebuild out west, restaurants, office building rebuilds). The figure Ryan quoted by the ANZ (factor in a 30% cost overrun strictly around CCC consent delays) is one I heard mentioned a lot by people on the ground in Christchurch. That is a massive figure and its an utter disgrace. Sue Wells admitted on air that its not a staffing issue but a cock up by management at the CCC as to when to ramp up the increased staff that they had already budgeted for.

    The utterly incompetent and wasteful practice of the Building Consent staff not referring to any of the Resource Consent material was evident 10 years ago when I built some apartments. We were told the excessive red tape was going to be sorted out and the whole purpose for CERA and its extraordinary powers was to give the Minister the powers to plough through bullshit red tape like this. Any now when said Minister finds out about these abuses (and Mark McGuiness was 100% accurate in describing the widespread ignoring of the 20 day deadline) and puts the foot dragging incompetent bureaucrats on notice that its shape up or ship out time idiots like you accuse him of bullying. For crying out loud this is EXACTLY what these muppets needed – a major rark up to get them to DO THEIR JOB. 30% cost overruns are not paid for by some rich fat cat developer – they are paid by taxpayers and all NZers who pay fire and general insurance premiums because they are the people who end up paying the price of this incompetence

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