Council quake efforts uneven

Sixteen months after Canterbury's September 2010 earthquake Christchurch City Council is trying to streamline resource consents.

Sixteen months after Canterbury’s September 2010 earthquake Christchurch City Council is trying to streamline resource consents.

The new measures come as the council anticipates an increase in earthquake-related applications of an additional 10,000 a year for at least three years.

At last week’s council meeting, staff outlined new online services designed for group builders and the project management offices operated by major project management firms.

Teams have been set up to deal with applications that engage a range of licensed building practitioners. Pre-application meetings would be arranged to identify and resolve likely roadblocks in the consenting process. An additional 69 fulltime staff will be recruited.

At the same time, a council report outlined Building Act changes being implemented nationally by the Department of Building and Housing. These Building Act changes mean restricted building work involving the structural integrity and weathertightness of a building can only be done by a licensed building practitioner.

While the streamlining effort has been welcomed, there are other areas where city council processes are proving an impediment.

One of them involves a resource consent panel of the council that has declined an application by Amherst Properties for a low-rise office development at 4 Riccarton Rd, an area surrounded by commercial development and close to the city centre.

Another is a review to reduce vehicle movements for “temporary office activities” forced on businesspeople after premises in the central city were destroyed or off limits due to civil defence cordons.

The council staff response was to recommend to councillors that removing offices from the list of activities which can establish as of right in living zones would be the most effective option for controlling traffic effects.

Applicants wanting to establish office activities in living zones would be required to apply for site-specific approval.

Meanwhile, the city council has backed away from trying to evict at least two people from houses where the council thinks residents may be at risk from rock falls. But others are still being targeted. The homeowners point out that after nearly 10,000 earthquakes their homes have not sustained boulder damage.