Waimakariri District Council says it is struggling to cope with an unprecedented number of dwelling consent applications as people move to the area from Christchurch.
Prior to the Canterbury earthquakes, which began in September 2010, the council processed about 450 consents a year.
That jumped to more than 800 last year and is continuing to increase this year, with 128 applications in October alone.
The council's building unit manager, Warren Taylor, says the trend is expected to continue for the next two or three years.
Mr Taylor says there is a severe shortage of qualified and experienced staff to process the consents.
He says the average time it takes to process an application has risen from 14 to 19 days since the quakes.