WCC consents

Stuff reports:

 mayoral candidate Justin Lester has vowed to simplify the city council’s “unnecessarily difficult” consents process with a “one-stop shop” and individualised case managers for major projects.

But one developer has expressed doubts, saying Wellington’s consents process is already much smoother than in other cities.

Lester, the capital’s deputy mayor, said the existing process for both resource and building consents was not user friendly and did not give adequate feedback.

Some people were waiting weeks before having to make a raft of time consuming changes, he said.

“I’ve had personal experience in being a business owner and having to negotiate the processes. It isn’t hopelessly convoluted, but it is more complicated than it needs to be.

“I’ve already had three people come and complain to me about it in the past week alone.”

If elected mayor in October, Lester said he would fix the problem by establishing a one-stop shop for consents, providing individual case management and support for major building and resource consents.

developer and engineer Maurice Clark said consents processing was often a tricky area, and one that would be unwise to rush through.

“I kind of hate to say it, but I generally feel that there are good reasons for things being the way they are,” he said.

“On one hand you could say yeah, simplification sounds good, but on the other hand, council consents can be extremely technical and complicated.

“With these you’ve got to be careful not to oversimplify – you don’t want to end up with, say, a leaky buildings situation and have to pay out millions of dollars.”

Here’s what I think would make a difference.

A Council that set its planning rules so you can apply online for a consent, and in most cases be granted it online automatically.

The planning rules should be objective and code-able so that you can fill in the details, and at the end of the process, literally print out your resource consent.

This would not be suitable for major projects, or say building a new house. But for the vast majority of consents, you should be able to do it quickly, cheaply and online without human interaction. The planning rulebook should be objective.

I’d love to see a Mayoral candidate pledge to do the above and implement it within say three years.

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