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Last modified: 10 Sep 2021 12:26pm

A Council staff member in a high-viz jacket shows a man and woman something on a tablet as they look round a building site

Selwyn has the highest rate of new houses consented for any region in the country, new figures confirm.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand show Selwyn issued new house consents at three and half times the rate of the rest of Aotearoa over the past year.

The number of new homes consented in the year ended July 2021 in Selwyn reached a staggering rate of 26.1 new dwellings per 1,000 people. The national average is 8.8 residential dwellings consented per 1,000 people, which is a 16% increase from the year ended July 2020. In Auckland the rate was 9.1, and in Christchurch it was 7.9 new homes consented per 1,000 people.

In terms of the total number of new houses only Auckland and Christchurch received more consent applications over the past 12 months to June 2021.

Since March 2021 the Councils consent team has been processing between 150 and 250 building consents a month, reaching over 300 in July this year.

With the increase in building consent numbers, the Council has also seen an increase in demand for building inspections. Last year the Council averaged 1,549 inspections per month, whereas this year the average has been 1,938 building inspections per month – an increase of over 20%.

The record number of building consent applications the Council has been receiving this year, together with the national shortage of trained building control officers, has put pressure on processing times.

However, the Council has put a number of proactive measures in place which have seen the average consent processing time falling from an average of 34 working days in July down to 29 days in August. These measures have included developing an innovative partnership programme that allows industry partners to fast-track parts of the consent process where it is safe to do so.

Partners such as Fletcher Living say programme is starting to make a difference. “While it’s early days we’re already seeing how this programme developed by the Council could save us time and money. By being able to fast-track certain consents, we can better deliver for our customers,” Fletcher Living Senior Development Manager Mike Davison says.

The Council has also hired additional staff and started an on the job training programme with six trainees joining the programme in July.

Other steps include working proactively with the industry to manage emerging issues such as supply chain product delays, as well as working with other councils and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. These efforts are helping to ease the situation, Council Environmental and Regulatory Services Group Manager Tim Harris says.

“The whole country is facing challenges and being the fastest growing place per head of population we’ve seen the positives and negatives. It’s heartening though to see that along with the number of new consent applications easing, what we’re doing is working to shorten processing times. If we keep working together and proactively as we have done, this shows we can manage those challenges.”