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PNCC trials pre-approved housing consents

A collaborative pilot between Palmerston North City Council (PNCC), the building industry and central government aims to speed up and simplify processes for housing development.

Palmerston North is only the second city in New Zealand to try out a pre-approval approach to consenting developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This is the first time the approach is being applied to pre-built homes.

The initiative is a version of MBIE’s existing MultiProof scheme, where one set of designs is pre-approved by MBIE, allowing them to be used for multiple building consents without having to undergo the full council checks each time.

To date, MultiProof approvals required all possible design variations to be known when someone applies for the MultiProof.

The approach being piloted will allow much more flexibility and scope for builders and developers to vary their designs across multiple consents / projects without needing to know those variations upfront.

Brad Hislop, senior adviser in MBIE’s consenting team, says the initiative has the potential to greatly speed up turnaround times for processing and issuing building consents and give builders and developers more certainty.

“Our first pilot in Christchurch with Generation Homes proved it can work, cutting consent approval time down from 30 days to fewer than five days. Running it in Palmerston North will allow us to refine the approach to suit pre-built homes, and confirm that similar benefits can be achieved for industry.”

Presidential Building’s Shane McEldowney sees the benefits for the work his team carries out. His firm has been producing at its factory in Jasper Place ready-built homes which are then trucked to site and put on foundations.

Without a MultiProof approval each building would require a full consent check by council despite similarities in design. Under the MultiProof most of the design will be pre-approved meaning the council will need to do far fewer checks.

The pilot will run until April this year, involving MBIE, Monika Puri from 242am Architects, Presidential Building and PNCC building services staff. If the pilot is successful, other builders and developers will be able to adopt the same approach and utilise its benefits.

PNCC general manager customer services Peter Eathorne says the initiative is a great example of how council is working with government and industry to unlock the city’s future prosperity. 
“We want to make the consent process as simple and as easy as possible to encourage more investment.”

This article was first published in the February 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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