10 Jul 2013

Resource consents to be checked

10:11 pm on 10 July 2013

The Christchurch City Council is under further government scrutiny, with officials being sent to check how it is issuing resource consents.

Environment Minister Amy Adams announced on Wednesday that two ministry staff will assess whether that department has enough resources and if its systems are robust enough.

Amy Adams.

Amy Adams. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

The move comes after the council lost its building consents accreditation on Monday, following a report from International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) saying it granted consents that are potentially dangerous. A Crown manager has been appointed to help council staff from mid-July.

Ms Adams said because of this, it made sense to check whether the resource department has similar troubles. She said she has heard anecdotally that some local planners are frustrated with delays and the culture within the department.

The minister said she's been told that some people want resource consents to replace their buildings but are being made to jump through hoops and this may not be appropriate for a city trying to put itself back together quickly after recent damaging earthquakes.

Ms Adams wouldn't be drawn on what might happen if major problems are unearthed.

"I think one of the learnings from the building consent part of it is there is an expectation that if there are problems within Christchurch that might be affecting the rebuild, then we all need to find those out sooner rather than later and have a plan to address them."

Ministry staff will report back to Ms Adams by the end of July.

A councillor on the planning committee, Peter Beck, said the the investigation will reassure the public that resource consents are being processed properly.

"There's been a kind of shaking of the confidence of the city overall in how we're doing this business and so it's a good thing that they're coming to do this ... Our staff are very confident of a good, clean report."

The council met for four hours earlier on Wednesday to discuss chief executive Tony Marryatt, who was put on leave last week over the building consents crisis. It has decided to launch an independent investigation into his actions and that of management and will release the terms of reference following a meeting on Monday.