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The ‘loopy’ rules and regulations New Zealanders have to jump through on a daily basis are a waste of time and money. This is why, in 2014, the National Government set up a taskforce to combat these ‘loopy rules’, in order to better the everyday life of each and every New Zealander. The report investigated property related rules and regulations, stopping people from ‘getting on with the job’. Out of 75 recommendations, the Government has accepted and started work on 72, to make getting the job done more practical. These recommendations will be implemented at local level, covering building and resource consents, bad customer service and general property related matters.

Building consent issues are one of the biggest issues that the report identifies and is something which affects us often in Rodney. By making it easier to get building consents, we can get on with the work without unnecessary barriers to consenting. To make the process more streamlined and efficient, a risk based consenting process will be explored and building consent exemptions will be promoted. The use of progressive building consents will allow work to begin sooner with non-structural details confirmed later.

Improving the resource consenting process is another area identified. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is working with local councils to establish end-to-end relationship management approaches for both resource and building consents, as well as working on how councils can combine building and resource consent application processes. The recently introduced Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, if legislated, would allow councils to waive the need for resource consents for marginal and temporary planning rule breaches, as well as streamlining the process to amend plan rules.

None of this matters however if the rules aren’t clear. MBIE has begun work on an online portal which will have all building and construction information in one place. MBIE will also be working with councils so they understand how they can apply discretion on fire and access provisions including “as near as is reasonably practical” as part of its fire review. The Government is also working hard to prevent more of these confusing rules from being created. We have begun working on consolidating advice to Government departments on how good rules are made and how systems and practice can be improved. Many of the changes identified by the report will need to be addressed at a local level, which means working closely with councils. The Government will continue to encourage and support the reduction of costs that regulations impose on people and businesses in New Zealand.

Column in Local Matters NZ

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