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Pilot scheme to speed up building consents

Friday January 8 2016

A collaborative pilot between the Palmerston North City Council, the building industry and central government is aiming to make things easier and simpler to develop housing.

Transportable home

Palmerston North will be only the second city in New Zealand to try out a pre-approval approach to consenting developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and it will be the first time it has been applied to pre-built homes.

PNCC General Manager Customer Services Peter Eathorne says the initiative is a great example of how Council is working with government and industry to unlock the city's future prosperity. "We want to make the consent process as simple and as easy as possible to encourage more investment."

The initiative is a version of MBIE's existing MultiProof scheme, where one set of designs is pre-approved by MBIE, allowing them to be used for multiple building consents without having to undergo the full council checks each time. To-date, MultiProof approvals required all possible design variations to be known at the time the MultiProof is applied for. The approach being piloted will allow much more flexibility and scope for builders and developers to vary their designs across multiple consents/projects without needing to know those variations upfront.

Brad Hislop, Senior Adviser in MBIE's consenting team says the initiative has the potential to greatly speed up turnaround times for processing and issuing building consents and give builders and developers more certainty.

"Our first pilot in Christchurch with Generation Homes proved it can work, cutting consent approval time down from 30 days to fewer than 5 days. Running it in Palmerston North will allow us to refine the approach to suit pre-built homes, and confirm that similar benefits can be achieved for industry."

Presidential Building's Shane McEldowney sees the benefits for the work his team carries out. They've been producing ready-built homes at their factory in Jasper Place, which are then trucked to site and put on foundations. Without a MultiProof approval each building would require a full consent check by council despite similarities in design. Under the MultiProof most of the design will be pre-approved meaning the council's checks will be far less onerous.

The pilot is aiming to run through until April 2016, involving MBIE, Monika Puri from 242am Architects, Presidential Building, and PNCC Building Services staff. If the pilot is successful, other builders and developers will be able to adopt the same approach and utilise its benefits.