Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Council rules and obsructive nonsense"

Brendan's submission tro the rules reduction team. How many stories like this are out there? Have you got one?

Dear team at DIA

Thanks for taking submissions on this subject.

A couple of years ago I wanted to build a boat shed extension on our beach house holiday home at Patons Rock, Takaka located in the Tasman District.  We had to consult with four different groups including local IWI and of all people, the Historic places trust in order to obtain consent.

At our expense a representative from the Historic Places trust flew out from Wellington to take 'soil samples' of the proposed site to determine if he needed to be present at the foundation excavations.  He duly reported that he did need to be present again when we stared the foundations.  When questioned as to what he found, he reported that he had found evidence of shells and bones. 

When I pointed out that this was a beach front property, and asked what he expected to find, it made no difference.  In his view this was a possible Maori midden.

So we paid up again, and he was present at the foundations dig, and to no-ones surprise he found nothing, about which he duly wrote a report, for which we once again had to pay.

But this was just the beginning of our experience.

Our holiday home was a three bedroom property with a small workshop.  In order to make it more functional, I cleaned out the workshop, put down some carpet and installed a couple of bunks.

Upon noticing this, the Council stated that we needed to upgrade our waste water system because we had gone from three to four bedrooms - the cost for the new system was $25,000.00.

I said, no problem, we will just revert back to a workshop and the few times a year when the grand children would have slept on bunks, they can sleep on the floor in the lounge or in a tent outside just as they did previously.

No, apparently once they have decided that the room *can* be used as a bedroom, it is forever a bedroom.

I tried to reason with them stating that it had absolutely no bearing on the number of people we had to stay in the house, and the existing waste water system was perfectly functional.  

Getting no where, I asked the Council staff member if I could make a written submission to the planning manager.  He appeared surprised that someone would take such a step, but never the less he provided the contact details.  I rehearsed my story in a three page letter, with the result that we now have a nice new $25,000 waste water system.

And of course the boat shed for which we originally started the consent process.

I understand the need for guidelines, but there appears to be zero flexibility or common sense used by all the decision makers in this process, from the Historic Places Trust representative, through to the Council planners. I might add that there is very little empathy shown for people like myself who are being forced to pay an additional $25K for a new system that we simply didn't need. 

It's a cultural change as much as anything that's needed. Good luck with that.

Kind regards
Brendan McNeill

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought for a while that the Christchurch EQ had dealt a blow to the Historic Places Trust because of the carnage caused by scruffy old buildings killing people. Clearly you can't keep a good monster down.