Council striving to maintain excellence in its consenting performance

Published on 23 November 2021

Building team

Building consent processing times at the Far North District Council place it among the top-performing building consent authorities in New Zealand.

In 2019, the Council’s Building Consents Authority Team struggled to issue all consents within the 20-day statutory period. Some critical systems and procedures failed to comply with regulations when International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) audited the team. At the end of October 2021, the team had processed 99.63% of consent applications received since 1 July 2020 within the 20-day statutory timeframe, despite record high numbers of applications.

Chief Executive, Shaun Clarke, says most of these consents were issued within 11 days, placing the team among the top quartile of building consent authorities in New Zealand according to IANZ. “It is gratifying when people stop us on the street to comment on how fast we turned around their application.”

In addition to this, the team received mainly positive feedback when IANZ completed an audit in October, raising only minor compliance issues during the audit. “Auditors likened the significance of compliance issues they found when they audited the team in 2019 as ‘rocks’. These became ‘pebbles’ and ‘sand’ as the team addressed issues. Now, auditors are dealing with ‘dust’.”

Mr Clarke says the FNDC has undertaken a transformation programme of 34 projects over the last four years. The transformation of the Building Consents Authority Team is one of the Council’s most spectacular business improvement success stories. “I want to thank and commend Manager – District Services, Dr Dean Myburgh, and Manager – Building Services, Trent Blakeman, for leading this dramatic transformation. We are here to support our people and we aim to provide excellent customer service. The Building Team’s upward trajectory is a shining example of both and the results they have achieved are another progressive milestone for our organisation.”

The Council also processed 100% of resource consent applications within the 20-day statutory timeframe in July, August and September, despite receiving high numbers of applications. At the end of October, the Resource Consents Team had received 599 applications for the first four months of 2021/22. These numbers exceeded the monthly average for 2020/21 when the Council received 1339 applications for the entire year.  

Mr Clarke says this is an extraordinary compliance rate, but will be difficult to sustain, given the shortage of external consultants who help the Council to process applications during peak periods. “We processed 93% of applications within the statutory timeframe in October and will have a short-term issue trying to reach 100% in the coming months. We are aware of the frustrations that processing delays cause for our customers and are doing what we can to address capacity issues.”