29 Aug 2016

There has been a noticeable shift in building activity in Christchurch with commercial momentum growing as residential work tapers off.

Council Head of Building Consents Leonie Rae said it was expected that residential building activity around the city would drop away this year. It was down about 20 per cent on last year but commercial construction activity has picked up.

So far this year, $862 million worth of commercial building projects have been consented by Christchurch City Council.

A construction worker works on a new building in the central city.

A construction worker works on a new building in the central city.

About 26 per cent of the commercial consents granted relate to projects in the central city.

More than 472 commercial consents had been granted so far this year with 190 big commercial developments being facilitated through the Council’s Partnerships Approval Programme.Another $742 million worth of residential building work has been consented in the year to date, bringing the total value of construction activity in the Christchurch City Council district to $1.6 billion.

The programme pairs developers with case managers who help them navigate their way through the consenting and approvals process.Ms Rae said despite the complexity of many of the commercial consent applications, the Council was managing to process nearly all of them within 20 days.

In the residential area they were starting to see consent applications coming through for the more complex residential rebuilds such as multi-unit dwellings and hillside homes.

Ms Rae said she expected the amount of residential consenting activity to drop by another 20 per cent over the next 12 to 18 months and to reach a more ‘business as usual’ level in 2018.

Even then residential construction activity was likely to be higher than it was prior to the earthquakes because of the high level of migration into Christchurch.

“The level of residential activity will remain higher than our historic average before the earthquakes,’’ Ms Rae predicted.

She has one simple piece of advice for people planning building projects, particularly complex ones.

“Get in touch with us early, when your plans are still in the concept stage, so we can give you advice about the likely consenting requirements and how to navigate the process,’’ Ms Rae said.