Ciaran Keogh said dealing with city council over a consent to build a house on the coastal property he owns with his wife, Jill Corson, in Moeraki has been an absolute nightmare.
The couple requested consent in October last year. What should have taken six to eight weeks had taken almost a year and cost much more than it should have, Keogh said.
“We just did an absolute tour,” Mr. Keogh said.
He described the example of a consultant copying and pasting an Upper Clutha consent, referring to the river landscape and a kanuka forest surrounding the house.
The couple were asked to perform a geotechnical assessment, despite an existing report on the council’s website indicating that a geotechnical report was not required prior to construction, and were asked to perform a contamination assessment, although the property was never built.
Halfway through the process, the couple and their neighbors agreed to a boundary adjustment and the consultant asked them to start the consent process again.
They had affected the party consent of all their neighbors, including Te Runanga o Moeraki, which was particularly important given the country’s history, Keogh said.
“There is a set of landscape guidelines that we wholeheartedly support and have designed with them in mind. “
These included a requirement for him to complete the native plantation, which he had already started, and planned to cover 50% of the property.
“We are very keen to get it right.”
Mr Keogh, who was previously the general manager of Clutha District Council, said the council spent $ 40,000 in the process and believed the money could be better spent on eradicating the noxious plants that are spreading along the coast and the rabbit infestation of Moeraki.
Mr. Keogh recently obtained consent, but was told he could not build for three years unless he paid a $ 10,000 bond in addition to his $ 15,000 consent.
“What they’re going to grant is pretty much exactly what we asked for in the first place, so it’s not like the process has come to a conclusion that changes what we’re going to do.
“We paid for it and had no recourse for poor performance.”
In January, Mr Keogh was offered a chance for a second opinion on the landscaping proposal, but declined as he felt the two sides had come to an agreement.
Instead, the situation worsened and he regretted not taking the opportunity.
Waitaki District Council’s Acting Heritage, Environment and Regulatory Group Director Roger Cook said in most cases the consent process was reasonably straightforward, but Mr. Keogh was complex.
Its proposed development was part of the overlay of scenic coastal landscapes, subjecting it to national, regional and local planning policies aimed at protecting the environment, Cook said. In addition, the proposal was for a subdivision smaller than the size prescribed by policy, and therefore required public notice.
“We must be aware that any development agreed here will have an impact on this environment for decades. Moreover, the proposal was for a subdivision smaller than the size prescribed by the policy.”
As a result, the process was significantly more expensive than standard consent, he said.
“We believe it is only fair that the cost should fall on the claimant rather than the taxpayer.”
Mr Cook admitted there were “some things” the board did not fully understand in the process, but said they had been rectified and there was no cost to Mr Keogh for errors.