Saturday, May 25, 2024

Far North beats clock on building approvals

Building consent processing times at Far North District Council in the past year have placed it among the top-performing building consent authorities in New Zealand, according to the Council’s Chief Executive.

Chief Executive, Shaun Clarke, said most of the consents received between July 2020 and October 2021 were issued within 11 days, placing the team among the top quartile of building consent authorities in New Zealand according to IANZ.

“It is gratifying when people stop us on the street to comment on how fast we turned around their application,” he said.

In 2019, the Council’s Building Consents Authority Team struggled to issue all consents within the 20-day statutory period.

Some critical systems and procedures failed to comply with regulations when International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) audited the team, the Council Chief Executive said.

By the end of October 2021, the team had processed 99.63% of consent applications received since 1 July 2020 within the 20-day statutory timeframe, despite record high numbers of applications, he said.

In addition to this, the team received mainly positive feedback when IANZ completed an audit in October, raising only minor compliance issues during the audit.

“Auditors likened the significance of compliance issues they found when they audited the team in 2019 as ‘rocks’. These became ‘pebbles’ and ‘sand’ as the team addressed issues. Now, auditors are dealing with ‘dust’.”

Mr Clarke says the FNDC had undertaken a transformation programme of 34 projects over the last four years.

The transformation of the Building Consents Authority Team is one of the Council’s most spectacular business improvement success stories, he said.

“I want to thank and commend Manager – District Services, Dr Dean Myburgh, and Manager – Building Services, Trent Blakeman, for leading this dramatic transformation. We are here to support our people and we aim to provide excellent customer service. The Building Team’s upward trajectory is a shining example of both and the results they have achieved are another progressive milestone for our organisation,” Mr Clarke said.

The Council also processed 100% of resource consent applications within the 20-day statutory timeframe in July, August and September, despite receiving high numbers of applications. At the end of October, the Resource Consents Team had received 599 applications for the first four months of 2021/22. These numbers exceeded the monthly average for 2020/21 when the Council received 1339 applications for the entire year, Council’s Chief Executive said.

He says, however, Council’s extraordinary compliance rate will be difficult to sustain given the shortage of external consultants to help to process applications during peak periods.

“We processed 93% of applications within the statutory timeframe in October and will have a short-term issue trying to reach 100% in the coming months. We are aware of the frustrations that processing delays cause for our customers and are doing what we can to address capacity issues,” he said.

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