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Parker shocked by consent-stripping letter

Christchurch mayor hints at reasons for the backlog in consents.

Chris Hutching
Tue, 02 Jul 2013

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says he was shocked at the tone of  letter from International Accreditation New Zealand stripping the council of its consenting accreditation.

When asked if the council should have seen the looming problem more than a year ago, Mr Parker offered several reasons for the backlog in consents.

Last year, an anticipated wave of consent application never transpired, he says. Therefore judgments had to be made about how much staff capacity should be kept in place in the consenting area.

There was also a learning curve with new computer software designed to speed up applications.

Mr Parker also attributed a surge in consent applications in March to developers and builders trying to file before the new financial year when new development contributions are recalculated upwards.

He says he was "very surprised" at the tone of the letter from International Accreditation New Zealand.

It flies in the face of all that has been achieved in clearing the consent backlog which council staff had worked hard to eliminate.

He says staff cannot work any harder. A couple of employees had to be sent home at the weekend after working well beyond requirements.

“I was also a bit miffed that Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee came at us via the media. But that aside, I think the relationship between us is very positive.”

The accreditation issue has also come as a shock to many Christchurch residents.

It came just days after Prime Minister John Key, Mr Brownlee and Mr Parker held a well-attended function to announce cost sharing for the rebuild of civic amenities.

However, a closer look at the cost-sharing agreement reveals government distrust in the council driving the main initial project – a $284 million convention centre.

Government ministries will control the convention centre development.

Chris Hutching
Tue, 02 Jul 2013
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Parker shocked by consent-stripping letter