Auckland Council issuing new consents after botch-up

Auckland Council is on track to sort out the botched resource consent process that led to hundreds of people having to re-apply, a council manager says.

The council had issued consents in suburbs like Devonport and Grey Lynn under rules that pertain to properties’ special character, which they thought over-rode the regular consenting process.

The Environment Court court ruled in August that was wrong and as a result some 420 consents granted between December 2016 and December 2017 were deemed to be illegitimate.

Affected homeowners, some who were mid-way through construction projects, had to re-apply for resource consents so they weren’t left open to the risk of a legal challenge.

That number was reduced to 319 after the cases were reviewed.

At Auckland Council’s planning committee meeting today, general manager of resource consents Ian Smallburn said about 115 consents had been re-lodged and the council had so far issued 54 new consents.

Council plans and places manager Phill Reid said the consenting team was working on altering the Auckland Unitary Plan to settle the problem.

“We’ve had a team of four staff and we’ve also had two planning consultants … working pretty much full time on this for six weeks.

“We’re hoping to meet a target date of December 6 to notify this plan change. This issue will be to make sure this plan change is very robust.”

Despite the mistake being the fault of the council, neighbours of people whose building works are based on a potentially unlawful consent have no recourse other than a High Court judicial review.

Councillor Mike Lee point out this had caused problems for many Aucklanders, not just those whose consents were bungled.

“There is another aspect to this, and that is affected neighbours who had not been told, who, apparently have still not been considered.

“I’ve had a number of distraught calling me, asking for help about buildings next door which are blocking out their view or their light and nothing is done about it.”

Mr Lee said the issue put a spotlight on problems with the council’s administration of the Unitary Plan and Resource Management Act.

“We deal with the people who apply for the resource consents as our customers and we treat the whole process as a commercial contract between us and the customer.

“But there’s more to it than that that; the Resource Management Act is a social contract – It’s not between the council and individuals, it’s between the council and the community, including neighbours.”

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