11 Feb 2014

Mayor promises consents consultation

10:03 pm on 11 February 2014

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel says there will be consultation before any decision is made on increasing the city council's building consent fees.

The council has said the minimum cost of a building consent for a new home in the earthquake-hit city could almost double from July this year.

Lianne Dalziel.

Lianne Dalziel. Photo: RNZ

Ms Dalziel was forced to put out a statement on Tuesday about consenting fees after Housing Minister Nick Smith and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee questioned how the council could justify any price increase.

She said a proposal to increase consenting fees by an average of 16 percent was discussed at a workshop on the council's draft Annual Plan on Monday.

The mayor denied the fees would double, saying last year's base figure of $1750 did not include inspections, whereas this year's figure of $3000 does.

The new fee structure has been proposed by Crown Manager Doug Martin, who was brought in to oversee the council's building consents process.

Gerry Brownlee.

Gerry Brownlee. Photo: RNZ

But Gerry Brownlee questioned why he signalled that the consent changes and would be seeking a full report from Mr Martin over the proposal.

"I think what we've got to know is what the circumstances are for this proposed price rise. I'm also somewhat surprised that the Crown monitor is making an announcement that should have been made by the mayor."

Housing Minister Nick Smith said he has asked for a report on whether a proposed increase to building consent charges can be justified and is concerned by the large increase being suggested.

Dr Smith said there is no question that there has been a problem with the city's consents procedures and systems need to be sorted out, but he is asking officials to report to him on whether the heightened charges can be justified.