More efficient consent process for Tauranga developers

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Members of local advocacy group the Urban Task Force (UTF) have initiated regular meetings with the Tauranga City Council (TCC) Building and Environmental Planning teams to discuss problems and recommend solutions to help improve efficiencies for building consent applicants.

The UTF is an incorporated society formed to provide powerful, knowledgeable leadership and the benefits of years of experience to Tauranga city’s local authorities.

Members comprise some of the city’s most influential developers, investors, professionals and iwi deeply concerned about the direction the city is taking.

It initially identified 19 areas of concern and corresponding recommended solutions which were raised at their first meeting late last year.

Tauranga City Council’s Barbara Dempsey, general manager regulatory and compliance, heralded the meeting as a success.

“Planning teams have met with the UTF, and we really appreciate the collaborative approach between the parties,” Dempsey says.

“Balancing the objectives and requirements of both parties can be challenging at times, but working together will result in better outcomes for the developer, the council and the community of Tauranga.

“We look forward to growing this relationship over the coming years.”

UTF chairman Scott Adams says the meeting was a major step forward in aligning the interests of the building community with the city’s regulators.

“Tauranga’s housing crisis isn’t going away. We need to increase capacity quickly and efficiently, which requires an effort from the council and the building community.

“The initial 19 points we raised with the council’s regulatory teams have all either been addressed or are in the process of being resolved in such a way that we have every confidence our concerns were heard, and significant progress is underway,” Adams says.

Issues identified in the first meeting between the parties include inconsistencies with the processing of consents, communication breakdowns, possible efficiencies with building inspections, and the need for system changes to prioritise large-scale housing projects over single dwelling consents.

“We had some really positice discussions with the council that confirmed our collective goal of addressing the shortage of homes in the city,” Adams says.

“It was encouraging to hear that the TCC was already working on software to improve processing systems which will speed up consenting and open up the lines of communication and co-operation.”

With a number of points of action underway to address developers’ concerns, the UTF has already booked in a second meeting — and both parties have agreed to schedule bi-monthly catch-ups to monitor progress.

Members of the development community who are interested in the collaborative process the UTF has initiated with the council are encouraged to contact the Urban Task Force for a detailed outline of progress to date at www.urbantaskforce.co.nz/get-in-touch.

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