02 February 2017
Report no: PRC2017/1/57
GM's Report - Governance & Regulatory
Purpose of Report
1. The Policy and Regulatory Committee requested a General Manager’s report containing information on major consents, hearings, appeals to the Environment Court and enforcement matters.
That the Committee notes the contents of the report.
2. This report covers the activities of two divisions in the Governance and Regulatory Group; being Regulatory Services and Environmental Consents. The Environmental Consents division process consent applications under the Resource Management Act and the Building Act (resource and building consents), as well as LIMs and property enquiries under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. It also offers an Eco Design Advisor service across the city and a part service in Upper Hutt City Council. Regulatory Services deal with food, alcohol, trade waste applications, bylaws, animal services and parking and District Licensing reports.
3. The report firstly covers Environmental Consents and secondly Regulatory Services.
Discussion – Environmental Consents
4. The number of building consents received in January has been the highest in since we have recorded them. Resource consent applications have remained fairly constant. In contrast, we are continuing to receive less LIM applications than we had in the last financial year.
5. The value of building work is high at $113,493,714, as would be expected with a large number of applications received. This is as a result of some large applications being received this financial year.
6. In response to the November earthquake the Minister for Building and Construction has announced an initiative to improve the seismic performance of URM (unreinforced masonry) buildings in Lower Hutt, Wellington, Hurunui and Marlborough in high use areas. The Minister introduced an amendment to the Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery Act last month (January) to enact this initiative. The amendment requires the urgent securing of parapets and façades on URM buildings. This is in recognition that URM buildings perform poorly in earthquakes and the parapets and façades present significant, unnecessary risks to life safety.
7. The team has been working hard to identify the affected streets in Lower Hutt, and then the affected buildings. Information on process and documentation is awaited from MBIE and the team is working closely with the Ministry to meet the requirements.
8. The Swimming Pool Officer has begun a public educational campaign “Be ‘Kid Cool’ around your pool” to raise awareness of the changes to the fencing requirements following a change to the legislation. This will include presence at festivals, articles in the Hutt News and other publications as well as communication with educational facilities with young children. The changes have resulted from an amendment to the Building Act, enacted on 1 January 2017 to include (and change) the provisions for the fencing of swimming pools. This coincided with the repeal of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act.
9. The resource consents team is currently falling short of their Annual Plan target to process 80% resource consents in 18 working days. This is a cumulative total for the year, so I predict that the annual target will be met. This is because the team has been recruiting for ten months for a planner.
10. There has been a notable increase in the number of building consents received for processing in the current financial year to date compared to the same timeframe last year. We have accepted 749 building consents up to the end of January 2017 compared to 517 for the same period last year. This equates to a 44% increase in the number of consents. We received 72 consents in January alone compared to 37 in January 2016, which is the highest received in January since we started recording data.
11. The value of building work in the current financial year is $113,931,114. This figure is expected to rise with the addition of major projects such as the Hotel on High Street to be lodged in the coming months.
12. The Building Team remains under-staffed reflecting the nationwide shortage of building officers. New recruitment methods are being employed including targeted facebook advertising, working with universities and schools (as long term solutions), stands at conferences and career days for recruitment, and radio advertising.
13. The building team staff have been extremely busy with the response and recovery since the earthquake in November. The tasks included the inspection of buildings immediately after the earthquake and the identifying at risks buildings.
14. The demolition of the Event cinema and part of the parking area at Queensgate is proceeding well. The demolition crew have been affected by the high winds, which has meant that there is an 8-10 day change to the timeframe since demolition began. Council is working with the main affected parties, being New World and The Angus Inn. Vehicular access to New World from Waterloo Road opened on 2 February and the restaurant at The Angus Inn was opened on 3 February.
Recent notable issued building consents:
· Medical Centre (Stage 2) at 8 Melling Road received for processing - $8.5M project
· Town Hall seismic strengthening and new Events Centre - staged
· New shop fit-out for international retailer - Queensgate - $5M project
· Manor Park hospital - addition to existing structure - $2.8M project
15. To date, this financial year, 162 resource consent applications have been processed. This compares to 204 applications for the same period in the last financial year. This is a 20% decrease in the number of consents.
Recent consents of note include:
16. 54 Leighton Avenue, Waiwhetu - An application has been received for a multi-unit development of up to 20 new dwellings with associated subdivision and earthworks. The application is currently being assessed.
Recently granted consents:
17. 73 Jackson Street, Petone – a non-notified consent was granted in November for construction a new four storey mixed used building with ground floor retail/commercial space and car parking, and 44 apartments on the upper levels (thirty-eight of these will be dual key apartments resulting in a total of 82 potential apartments).
18. 18 Hammerton Street, Naenae – consent has recently been granted for a new multi-unit development with 12 units to be used in association with Laura Fergusson Trust Facility. The number of residents will increase from 34 to 48 in association with Laura Fergusson Trust. The number of staff will not increase from 40 due to the independent nature of the proposed units. Written approval was provided from four neighbouring properties. The application was limited notified to one neighbouring property who did not wish to wish to be heard at a hearing. The application was determined under delegated authority at officer level.
19. 1 Laura Fergusson Grove, Naenae (the former HCC Summit Road Nursery Depot) – a non-notified consent has recently been granted to Urban Plus Ltd for a multi-unit development including 20 new dwellings with associated subdivision and earthworks. The immediately adjoining neighbours gave their written approval. Council’s decision on this application was reviewed and supported by an independent and external planning consultant. This review was carried out to address any perceived issue of bias given that Council sold the site to UPL and Council officers determined the resource consent application.
20. 14 Waiu Street, Wainuiomata – The consent holder has sought the cancellation of the enforcement orders that remain in place for this site. This was issued as result of the prosecution taken by the Council against the previous operator and his company that poorly managed this cleanfill. Council officers are currently in discussions with the applicant about the appropriate course of action for dealing with the enforcement order, whilst the recently granted resource consent is yet to be implemented. The consent holder has suggested that a bond be paid to Council to enable the enforcement orders to be discharged. Council officers have requested more detail be provided in relation to the amount of bond; how it has been calculated; and what remediation works it would cover. This matter will ultimately be determined by the Court.
21. 784 High Street – Council has received complaints that this property is being used as a boarding house. This is both a building and resource consent matter. We are waiting for a determination from MBIE before any action can be taken under the Building Act. The owner of the property has been given a deadline of 28th February to apply for resource consent (this is to allow for a parking survey to be carried out after the school holiday period).
22. 308 Waiwhetu Road - complaints were received that this property was being used as a car wrecking operation. Council officers investigated and determined a resource consent was required. The operators were given a deadline of 9 December to vacate the site. They complied with this deadlines and no formal enforcement action was necessary.
Environment Court Appeals
23. 77 Bell Road & 91 Whites Line East– award of costs: Council sought and won an enforcement order from the Environment Court in relation to the unlawful use of these residential zoned sites for a business use. Following the issue of the enforcement order compliance has been achieved in relation to both of these sites. Council sought a fair and reasonable contribution to the costs it incurred in seeking the enforcement order. The Court issued its decision on costs on 5 December 2016 and ordered that the responded is to pay the Council $11,000 towards the cost it has incurred on this matter.
Land Information Memoranda
24. The total number of LIM applications is down in this financial year 2016/2017 to date, compared to the previous financial year 2015/2016. The number of commercial LIMs has remained constant, but the number of fast-track LIMs received is increasing – this is where applicants pay double the fee to obtain their report in five days.
Eco Design Advisor service
25. The Eco Design Advisors (EDAs) and the Swimming Pool Officer had stands at the Te Ra festival. As a result of the promotion at Te Ra and an article in the Hutt News, the Eco Design Advisors have had an upsurge in requests for home visits from residents.
26. The EDAs will also have a presence at the pop up beach at the Riverside Market.
27. Hutt City Council was one of 15 successful tenderers (out of 77 applicants) for the government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund. This funding will be used to pay for an electric vehicle carpark in one of the large box retail carparks in Lower Hutt.
Enforcement matters from Regulatory Services
28. Animal Services participated in three community Christmas parades being Petone, Wainuiomata and Stokes Valley in December. The feedback about Animal Services’ floats was extremely positive and the message on the floats was to promote good dog ownership and the range of services offered. The team kicked this year off attending the Te Raukura Festival at Te Whiti Park on 29 January with the community engagement caravan. This event was hugely popular with thousands having attended and the three staff on hand at this event were kept busy answering queries and speaking with those that attended our displays.
29. A number of events are planned for the first quarter of this year for Animal Services to participate in, which includes the Newtown Festival, Paws in the Parks walks for dogs in Wellington and Hutt Valley, attendance with the caravan and display trailers at the community dog parks in Wellington and a presence at Oriental Bay dog walks.
30. Last quarter officers reported on 1058 unpaid dog registrations. Officers are very pleased to see that all the hard work put in chasing up those that failed to register dogs last year has paid off with having only 35 debtors left, with most of those dog owners ‘gone with no known address’ or proving hard to track down. This means a more accurate data base for invoicing in May for both councils.
31. The Environmental Health team is progressing towards an April 2017 target for IANZ ISO 17020 Accreditation – Food Act 2014.
32. The Environmental Health team have been asked to contribute to a number national and regional initiatives over the last three months which have included:
· The Real Estate Institute of NZ where HCC staff will be presenting to lawyers involved in property law at a Webinar in early March 2017 on meth and how it relates to landlords and tenants.
· HCC staff will be co-presenting with Auckland Council (the other TLA member of the working group) at the NZ Institute of Environmental Health Conference in late February 2017 where they will provide an update on the proposed NZ Standard for the testing and remediation of methamphetamine contaminated properties. Public consultation closes in late February 2017.
· HCC staff are part of the Executive Committee which is working on organising the International Environmental Health Conference in Auckland (March 2018).
· HCC is one of 10 TLA steering group members on the Food Act Regulators Forum focussing on how to successfully implement the Food Act 2014 across the country.
33. Good levels of activity from local industry and high numbers of food business changes. Brewery activity is growing very strongly.
34. Minor earthquake damage to the four clarifiers at the wastewater treatment plant when wave action in the 35m diameter clarifiers bent the stilling plates. There were some learning experiences after the first one was repaired and odour releases should be less of an issue for the remaining ones. Within minutes of refilling it the phone began to ring!!!
35. The Trade Waste team are working on a waste collection and transportation bylaw to better control sump trucks.
36. Consultation was undertaken with affected parties on notified resource consents.
37. The group administers the RMA, the Building Act, LGOIMA, the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, Food Act and other legislation. No other legal considerations apply in terms of the content of this paper.
38. There are no financial considerations.
39. In making this recommendation, officers have given careful consideration to the purpose of local government in section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002. Officers believe that this recommendation falls within the purpose of the local government in that meets the current needs of the community by ensuring that development is dealt with in a controlled and legitimate manner.
Environmental Consents Graphs at the end of January 2017
Attachment to report (Regulatory Services - enforcement actions to 31 December 2017)
Author: Geoff Stuart
Divisional Manager, Regulatory Services
Author: Helen Oram
Divisional Manager Environmental Consents
Approved By: Joycelyn Raffills
General Manager, Governance and Regulatory