4 Jun 2014

Minister pleased by consents progress

4:56 pm on 4 June 2014

Changes to the Christchurch City Council's consents processes are encouraging, Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith says.

Housing Minister Nick Smith.

Housing Minister Nick Smith. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Dr Smith visited the council's building control department on Wednesday to see changes it has made in a bid to regain its authority to issue building consents.

International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) revoked the council's certification to issue building consents in July last year due to its slow handling of consents during the earthquake-hit city's rebuild. The council in May applied to IANZ restore the certification.

The Government appointed Doug Martin as Crown Manager last year to help implement change, and Dr Smith said it wanted the current momentum of the building operations maintained before Mr Martin was withdrawn.

More than $8 million had been spent on the changes, Dr Smith said.

"In my view, the cost to Christchurch of having a dysfunctional building consent service was huge, it was holding back the recovery of Christchurch's housing, as well as its commercial sector, and if $8 million was what was required to fix it, it'll be the best $8 million the Government spends."

Mr Martin said the department had a much better handle on the challenges which lay ahead and had increased its resources to meet the demand.

"We've also done a significant overall of our systems and processes. That's work in progress so that'll continue well beyond my tenure," he said.

"And we've installed a new management team, working under a much more functional structure."

Mr Martin said he expected IANZ would issue corrective actions as part of conditions to regain accreditation.

A team of IANZ assessors would begin an audit of the council's processes on 8 July.