110,000 Christchurch home-owners need the grey ones to get the hell out of the way [updated]
Builders say it is vital that rebuilding in Christchurch begins immediately. Christchurch will never rebuild this decade if all reconstruction must wait for council assessors, council inspectors, and all builders must sit on their hands while they wait for the council’s monopoly builder-of-choice, Fletcher Building, to give them a ring.
Why should the productive have to wait for the unproductive in order to get permission to produce their own rebuilding programme? Christchurch builders are already raring to go, and around 110,000 Christchurch home-owners need to them to.
That’s a lot of work to be done. And a lot of builders and home-owners will want to get going.
Instead they have to sit and wait—and even when they’re ready to get going they’ll still have to sit and wait: Wait for council inspectors and council planners to go through the time consuming process of considering whether enough paperwork has been supplied by hard-pressed applicants before they deign to allow a Building Consent or a Resource Consent to be granted. (Not to mention the time and expense and wasted resources in producing all that paperwork, which in quantity alone is orders of magnitude more than it was even ten years ago.)
But Minister Brownlee could change the situation in a stroke with no diminution at all of building quality. And in Christchurch he has the power to do it:
- Immediately release land on the city fringe to allow affordable housing and temporary housing to accommodate those 10,000 home-owners,and show them the council means business in helping them.
- BUILDING CONSENTS: a proposal already exists in the Department of Building and Housing to take work off hard-pressed council building inspectors (and risk from Christchurch ratepayers) and make use of the expertise of the building and insurance industries instead.
Insurers would study the plans, issue their own consents, and indemnify the builder for any problems that occur. And if a problem did occur, the insurer would deal with the homeowner and fix the problem—without sticking their hand in the ratepayers’ pocket.
All the council would do would be to identify where the house would go, how high and wide it would be, and what services would hook up to it (or what on-site provisions would be built).
And the average $15,000 per new house currently spent in council inspections and applications (not to the mention the time involved) would be spent much more efficiently than it is now.
- RESOURCE CONSENTS: Instead of the present process that will see town planners holding up home-owners for months (a process that would test the patience of Sisyphus and the money bags of Croesus), council (or Brownlee) could set up “Small Consents Tribunals” for all work requiring Resource Consents valued at less than, say, $400,000. Tribunals that would be as informal and efficient as Disputes Tribunals, able to issue a decision immediately based on simple “no bullshit” principles.
It would be very easy to get this ball rolling.
First, enact a codification of basic common law principles such as the Coming to the Nuisance Doctrine and rights to light and air and the like.
Second, register on all land titles (as voluntary restrictive covenants) the basic “no bullshit” provisions of District Plans (stuff like height-to-boundary rules, density requirements and the like).
The Consents Tribunals would consider your small project on the basis of the codified common law principles and the voluntary restrictive covenants on your title, and home-owners should be able to reach agreement in an afternoon.
The Christchurch earthquake is unprecedented. It’s a $20 billion earthquake in a city of just 400,000 people—and unprecedentedly small number people to bear such a problems.
It’s been said often enough that the Christchurch earthquake is a “game changer.” So let’s see some of the game being changed, and have the grey ones help people rebuild instead of hinder them.
There are around 110,000 Christchurch home-owners who need things to change. And soon.
UPDATE: High-profile Christchurch business-owner Antony Gough is heading up a group of central-city business- and property-owners who want access to their buildings and a say in what happens to them. The way things are going now, he says this morning in The Press, politicians and search-and-rescue are enjoying full and unfettered access to the whole central city while central city property-owners are still excluded.
If you’re a politician from Wellington … you go wherever you want. If you’re a search and rescue or someone from overseas the town’s your oyster… [but] if you’re one of those dirty capitalists who actually own the property or or a shopkeeper or an office person, don’t you come near it or we will put you in jail if you’re seen in town.
That’s the wrong attitude because it won’t be search and rescue who
put the city back together.
If this continues, he says “there’s a real risk we’ll get flight from the city”—with Christchurch capitalists leading the stampede to the exits—“and it will never come back.”
These are the people who will put the city together again. If they get some certainty and the shackles come off.
There is now a shortfall of around 435,000 square metres of office space in the central area, and Gough and his groups suggest council can do three things immediately that will get the rebuild under way—relaxing things that they presently prohibit:
- allow the consolidation of land titles to make better use of land and allow economies of scale to be enjoyed;
- relax development rules on carparking that take resources away from creating new useable space and accommodation;
- “development contributions” should be removed immediately from new residential and commercial projects to make them cheaper
That’s the right attitude.
[Thanks Warwick D. for the story]