Local body inaction leaves many in limbo

Earthquake Recovery Minister has delivered a pointed message to Canterbury local authorities:

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government is unwilling to tolerate undue delays over resource consents for new Christchurch subdivisions.

Mr Brownlee says local authorities cannot afford to have a business-as-usual approach to consenting subdivisions.

It sounds like the Minister is losing patience and if what I’ve been hearing is true he is justified.

His comment is aimed at Christchurch City Council, the Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils, Canterbury Regional Council and Christchurch Motorways. But the worst of the damage is in the CCC area and that appears to be where the least is happening.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker did a very good job as the public face of the city immediately after the large earthquakes. But leadership requires more than reassurance.

People living in desperate situations are in limbo and council inaction is partly to blame for that.

16 Responses to Local body inaction leaves many in limbo

  1. Quintin Hogg says:

    I was in Christchurch on Thursday in one of my other roles. The damage creeps up and overwhelms you.

    In Japan there would be and air of urgency bustle and rebuilding. There did not seem to be that in Christchurch.

    Having said that the issue of insurance is a biggie. My associates were saying commercial insurance is very hard to obtain as the appetite for risk is just not there. Lack of appetite for risk will retard redevelopment of Christchurch,even in a Green perfect world, as whatever the style the redevelopment take the bricks and mortar will still need to be insured.

    It may be that, and I hate to say this, a pragmatic solution is a state backed insurance company set up to provide cover to Christchurch it’s residences and businesses may be worth establishing to cover the next say 5 years until the city’s risk profile improves and the normal suspects are prepared to provide cover. At the end of the life of the company it could be sold or it’s policy book could be sold on commercial terms.


  2. gravedodger says:

    The whole sick mess around consenting subdivision throughout the country has been exposed for the total OTT control inanity it is.

    Local authorities armed with little more than their elitist “we know best”attitude and with the support of the platoons of Nimbys and envyist “we cant so you wont” professional opposers of progress, armed with the resource Management Act and misusing it in ways never intended have driven the section cost to the heights of absurdity.
    They have all the while trampled many traditional property rights of owners to do what many reasonable citizens would applaud as progress and enjoyment of freehold title.

    I was left with the distinct impression that the National led government was going to bring much needed change to all that crap but the erstwhile “Dr” Nick Smith with the legion of “educated”people in positions of unfettered control of Local Body Planning offices across N Z holding the Status Quo line, all I have is a feeling of complete disappointment.


  3. gravedodger says:

    Oh and of course as we all know now the planning office of the CHCH City Council allowed many to build on the swamps on the East of town where nearly all the RED ZONE homes are and the promoters of Pegasus town a couple of Kilometers north of The areas of Kaiapoi devastated in the original quake have a stable, unaffected town growing on a subdivision that was unsuccessfully opposed by the educated elite at ECAN to the point that they almost died in the ditch over.
    The only thing that avoided bankruptcy for them in their fruitless stupidity was their legislation based access to an unlimited amount of money from the poor bloody ratepayers..


  4. robertguyton says:

    “But leadership requires more than reassurance.”

    Out of the mouth of a babe 🙂


  5. Ross says:

    RG: You really are a complete and utter idiot aren’t you. Try just once to debate points.

    With regard to local authorities – like all public organizations in this country they are set up, sized, resourced, and managed for their typical daily function. This includes all of their systems, processes, and decision tools.

    Despite popular belief, there is very little fat in them – that has all been stripped out over the past few decades.

    So, now we have the Canterbury local authorities dealing with a very large series of extraordinary events. Staff and elected representatives have put in huge efforts just to get where they are today. They have had to start from scratch in many instances, because their previous systems, rules and processes were simply not designed for what has occurred.

    Good on Gerry Brownlee for keeping the pressure on, however there needs to be recognition that these are extraordinary times.

    There is a list of decisions a mile long that need to be sorted properly before major rebuilding can start:

    Where can rebuilding occur safely?
    What areas are going to be abandoned?
    What happens to properties on the edges of the abandoned areas – will they be unsellable?
    What is the public private insurance mix?
    Where is the CBD going to be?
    Is there going to be a CBD of will a multi nodal model be adopted?
    Where is the most logical place for rebuilding?
    What are the infrastructure implications of new rebuilding areas?
    What effect will new areas have on requirements for roads, shopping, parks, etc?
    What building standards will be used?
    Do building and infrastructure construction standards need a complete redesign?

    Thats just a few off the top of my head – there will be a 100 more.

    Given there are around 15,000 homes that need rebuilt – you need to realize that is a couple of towns the size of Ashburton, Oamaru or Rangiora. Get your head around that, and you start to get a handle on the size of the problem being addressed.

    The last time as a country we did that much construction in 2-3 years in one area was the hydro and timber town construction in the 1950’s – Tokoroa comes to mind.

    It simply takes some time to scale up for that sort of effort.

    I know people who work for Christchurch CC – they are working their guts out to help others, often when there own homes are totaled. There is a lot of daily self sacrifice going on.

    It is the size and complexity of the issues that is the problem, not people stuffing around doing nothing.


  6. Richard says:

    I have an example ChCh where a premise needs re-piling; six week job. Insurance is not an issue. I have listened to the various people involved. Piling and main contractor, project manger etc not letting on that I worked for a large UK construction company for three years.
    The bs is astonishing. Is a consent requied? No No– later- delay– we need an engineers report before we put in a consent. Yes the consent is in – should be able start very soon, promise– later- need an architects report then we will put in retrospective consent. CCC- What is a retrospective consent? Answer: no such thing. And so it goes on. In the mean time temporary premises found and paid for but the cost is not covered by insurance. Landlord is Asian, very helpful; threw in repaint and carpet clean. No point in moving- a disincentive for the builders. Real estate agents not at all helpful- demanding a six year lease even though buildings lie empty.

    Sigh – seen it before. When the building economy is on a high as it is in ChCh -the building industry end users at the end of the chain are least of their worries.

    Seldom agree with Gerry Brownlee but he has got this one right Ele you are right about Parker – he not showing any leadership; neither is his Council -silly games being played over the CEO.

    But what of the new Cera boss Roger Sutton? We hear little from him.

    Finally, I think there is an organizational/structural problem between Cera and the CCC. Who is in charge?

    There needs to be one organization that has primacy in ChCh. My vote would be for Cera


  7. JC says:

    Just to give an idea of how fast a local authority can act in normal times..

    A dozen years ago in the US, a sawmill that would dwarf the biggest we have ever produced got approval to build in just 10 working days and the direct process cost NZ$900.

    How did they do it?

    In this case, absolutely every condition relating to getting approval was contained in one publication available to the public. The sawmilling company simply picked up the book, devised it’s plant around the requirements and submitted the plans for
    approval where the authority by law must approve or not within 10working days. Objectors have the same time span and must pay tens of thousands to lodge an appeal.. every day they hold up production, they must pay the expected daily profit of the plant.

    Of course I’m not suggesting that for Chch.. merely indicating the mindset associated with real productivity.



  8. homepaddock says:

    Quinton – When Lloyds is facing a $2b of claims in Christchurch you can understand the reluctance of reinsurers.: http://www.starcanterbury.co.nz/local/news/lloyd-expects-2b-christchurch-claim/3959907/

    GD – improving legislation is the first step, improving implementation is a bigger and more difficult second step. I hope the Royal Commission looks right back to how and why consents were given in those areas.

    Robert – a schoolgirl yesterday, a babe today, if we ever meet be prepared for disappointment.

    Ross – these are extraordinary circumstances but there were complaints about procedures in ordinary times too. Your numbers illustrate the size of the problem which requires extraordinary solutions.

    JC – if there, why not here?

    Richard – I think Sutton is concentrating on doing rather than talking. I second your vote.


  9. Ross says:

    Ele, I agree with your comment. I note that our planning systems were designed for ordinary time and a lot of mucking around built in with it.

    The CERA legislation has everything needed to override these issues, so I am certain they will be sorted.

    The planners. like everyone else, will have to adapt to the new reality, or they will be taken out of the loop – and replaced with those that can.

    It is still going to take some more time to get all the base decisions made and the new systems and processes in place.

    Then we should see some real progress quite quickly.


  10. Richard says:

    I think this is what you were referring to:
    “There needs to be one organization that has primacy in ChCh. My vote would be for Cera.”

    Compare this to ECAN where there was much fuss when it was effectively disbanded. It seems to have got back on its feet. The same should happen in ChCh, albeit temporarily.

    Sometimes it is the case that -for the greater good- a pragmatic solution is needed


  11. gravedodger says:

    A good first step IMHO would be to put the all Planning and consent in the hands of CERA and let all the numpties who have been making crap decisions for years go and get a real job and stop trying to make the world in their image.
    They sure didn’t do so well last time.


  12. Cadwallader says:

    The RMA is a Stalinesque tool to nationalise all real property. The powers, the delays and the expenses are biting and unnecessary.

    In this instance it will not be the Local Authorities who will decide on re-development. I understand the insurers en-masse have told the CHCH local authorities what they will and won’t tolerate. It is the right of the insurers to do just this as they are paying for the process. For instance I have read a letter from an insurer to Waimakariri DC refusing to pay one of their pernicious Development Contribution Levies issued under the LGAct 2002. It made for delightful reading.

    The LGAct 2002 is in many ways a far worse statute in than the RMA when one addresses it as a tool of state control. That said, both of the Acts are a socialist’s wet dream.


  13. Cadwallader says:

    Further: The worst aspect of the RMA (and there are many faults in its philosophy and its administration) is that unlike its pre-decessor it empowers a wide community to object to lawful land usage. In practice this means all sorts of parties can object to activities on private land whether those activities have a significant impact on the objector’s interests. The essential friend of a deluded busy-body!


  14. JC says:

    “JC – if there, why not here?”

    Ele, think of the implication..

    Its freedom of information. That US state instructed its staff to write down in a book every little turn and twist of their collective knowledge of the consent process and made it available to the public. Straight away the public has access and can plan how it wants to develop something with full knowledge of the process.

    Thats huge.



  15. homepaddock says:

    Huge and miraculous, JC.


  16. robertguyton says:

    Ross – be calm.
    Ele – I’m not so shallow as to judge people by how they look.
    Codswalloper – you’re completely off the planet with our RMA rant.
    “All sorts of parties” – yes. Your fellow men and women. You make me laugh!


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