Hutt Council trying to fool consent appliers

Stuff reports:

Home builders waiting months for overdue resource consent applications are also likely waiting on thousands of dollars owed by the Hutt City Council in discounts.

The council has admitted in the past six months it has not paid out anything under a Resource Management Act (RMA) regulation which requires authorities to discount consent fees when applications remain unprocessed beyond the statutory 20 working day time limit.

Stuff have reported claims of the council taking up to nine months to return consent applications. Developers and planners said the “broken” system was hobbling housing projects by delaying construction and increasing costs.

So not only is the Hutt Council unable to process consents on time, sometimes taking 800% longer than allowed, they are not refunding a portion of consent fees, as required to by law!

Authorities are obliged to provide a discount of 1 per cent for every working day beyond the time limit, up to a maximum of 50 working days.

The discount does not appear to be advertised on the council’s  as it is with other local bodies. Sally Gepp, president of the Association of Resource Management Practitioners, said the onus was not on applicants to ask for the rebate.

“The regulations do not require that a consent applicant proactively seeks a discount. They specify that the council ‘must give the applicant a discount’.”

So they have not told anyone about the rule, and have not given any discounts – despite it being a legal obligation.

Council correspondence with applicants shows it is starting the 20 working day timeframe well after applications are received. The 20-day mark is meant to be a maximum allowable limit, not a target.

Applicants are being told, “it is taking about six weeks for an application to be allocated to a planner… it will usually take up to 20 working days to complete the process.”

Gepp​ said the council’s interpretation of the 20 working day time frame was also inconsistent with the RMA.

She said the target time frame started when an authority received an application.

This is also an outrageous breach of the law. The 20 days starts with application, not six weeks later when the Council gets it shit together.

If the Council is unable to meet its statutory obligations, is it time for a Commissioner?

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