By Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter. Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.
A record number of resource consent applications were submitted to Auckland Council last November, but staff expect another peak later this year.
A total of 1798 applications were received, about 300 more than in November 2020.
The quarterly performance report to the Finance and Performance Committee meeting on May 19, showed increases in consent volumes had been rising since 2020.
Resource consents general manager Ian Smallburn said the number of applications in November was the highest since the Auckland Unitary Plan was established six years ago.
However, the number of applications had slowed in March and April this year.
“One reason for this is the market, but I also suspect that applicants are waiting in anticipation of the plan change in late August, which will allow for greater intensification,” Smallburn said. “We are expecting an increase in applications in August.”
Smallburn said the department had been under “a wee bit of pressure” dealing with these unprecedented volumes.
Cr Richard Hills asked how many extra full-time staff were needed to meet the increased demand.
“It is quite a dramatic uplift of work,” Hills said.
Smallburn said that the department currently had 315 full-time staff.
“We had approval to take that up to 385, but the market is very tight and the demand for planners is extremely high, so it is really hard to fill those positions.”
Cr Linda Cooper reminded the committee that it had supported a five per cent staff cut across the board in the emergency budget.
“In terms of the consenting area, that was really difficult and now we are only trying to get back to where we were before, but we have had a massive increase in consents,” Cooper said.
She said that the increase in staff was necessary in order for Council to do its core business.
The Council plan changes under central government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development and Medium Density Residential Standards must be publicly notified by August 20. The plan change will take effect from the day Council advertises it for submissions.