A resource consent is a written approval from council to use your land in a manner that does not comply with the rules of the District Plan, or is listed in the District Plan as an activity that requires a resource consent.
Building Consents are required under the Building Act 2004 and deal with matters such as the structural integrity of the building, provision of services within the building (eg plumbing) and making sure the building is fit for purpose.
Resource consents are wider than just buildings – they relate to the type of activity, whether it is appropriate within that locality and how it affects the environment – including neighbours and the wider community.
Obtaining a Building Consent does not mean that you do not require a resource consent – Council Planners check Building Consent Applications to see if planning requirements are met and you will be notified if further information or a consent is required.
If you require a resource consent, you cannot start work on your project - even if you have a Building Consent.
To apply for a resource consent you need the following:
An application form – you can download one above. This needs to include:
A full and clear description of the proposed activity and the location in which it would be undertaken
An assessment of the relevant rules and whether they are met or not
An assessment of the effects of the activity
Plans that show what is proposed:
Subdivision: a scheme plan that shows the dimensions and size of the proposed allotments, required setbacks and shape factors
Land Use: a site development plan that shows where buildings etc would be located, dimensions and setbacks from boundaries; and elevations – including heights, setbacks to boundaries and recession plane
A current Title for the property
The level of detail needed depends on how complex the proposed development is and how many of the rules and standards it would not comply with. In some instances, the business you are working with on your project may be able to help you with your application – or for more complicated applications you may need to employ a planning consultant to prepare the application for you.
Once it has received your application, the Council will check that it is complete – if not, it may return the application to you. If the application is accepted, the Council may ask for further information to help it better understand what is proposed or to meet the requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991.
In some cases, you may be required to get written approval from your neighbours.
Once the Council has all the information it needs, it can complete processing your application and you will be notified of the decision.
There are four ways in which consents are considered:
Controlled Activity: must be granted but can be subject to conditions that must be met.
Restricted Discretionary Activity: may be granted or refused. In making this decision, the Council may only consider certain matters (listed in the District Plan) and any conditions may only applied in respect of those matters.
Discretionary Activity: may be granted or refused. In making this decision, the Council can consider any matter it considers relevant and can apply any conditions relevant to the activity.
Non-complying Activity: Is an activity that isn’t anticipated to be appropriate but may be acceptable in particular circumstances. The Council may grant or refuse the consent but the threshold for granting the consent is higher.
The Council uses the District Plan and other relevant documents to guide its assessment of your application and decide whether it should be granted or declined.
Some activities are considered to have an effect on neighbouring or nearby properties (eg. building closer to a boundary or to a height than permitted). In such cases, the Council will identify the affected property(s) and the owners and occupiers of those properties are considered “affected parties”. There may be organisations (such as Iwi or the Department of Conservation) who are also considered “affected parties”.
The applicant for resource consent can either:
Try to obtain written approval from the affected parties; or
Ask the council to notify the affected parties and give them the opportunity to have their say on the application. In order to ask for written approval, an applicant (or their agent) should provide you with
A written approval form; this needs to include:
A full and clear description of the proposed activity
The rules that aren’t being met
An assessment of the effects of the activity
Subdivision: a scheme plan that shows the dimensions and size of the proposed allotments
Land Use: a site development plan that shows where buildings etc would be located, dimensions and setbacks from boundaries; and elevations – including heights, setbacks to boundaries and recession planes.
You can ask for more information about the activity to help you understand what is proposed and what the effects would be on you and your property.
Do I have to provide written approval?
No – whether you provide written approval or not is up to you.
If you are happy with what is proposed, you can complete the written approval form and sign the scheme plan or site development plans. If you provide written approval, the Council cannot consider any effects of the activity on your property in deciding whether to grant the consent or not.
If you choose not to provide written approval you do not need to explain why.
If I don’t provide written approval does that mean they can’t undertake the activity?
Not necessarily. If an applicant is unable to obtain written approval from any of the affected parties, they can still lodge the application with the Council and ask them to notify the affected parties.
The Council writes to those affected parties to tell them the application has been received and give them the opportunity to submit on the application is they so choose – to tell the Council about any concerns with the proposed activity that they may have. There are forms that set out what is required in a submission.
You do not have to submit on an application, but if you do not do so then the Council cannot take any effects of the activity on your property into account.
If you submit, the Council has to consider any matters you raise to the extent that they raise relevant matters under the District Plan.
You have the opportunity to state whether you want to be heard – that is, have your submission considered by the Council’s Environment and Hearings Committee and be able to talk to them about your concerns.
The Council will consider any matters raised in submissions and make a decision as to whether the consent should be granted or declined. If you have made a submission to a consent application you have the right (as does the applicant) to appeal the decision to the Environment Court.
Subdivision enables you to divide your property – creating new allotments which can be sold/developed separately, - or adjust the boundaries of your property. Any lease of land that lasts for more than 35 years is considered a subdivision.
All subdivision of land requires consent from Council.
The subdivision process involves 3 stages:
Obtaining resource consent from Council
Providing a survey plan and meeting any conditions of consent
Depositing the survey with Land Information New Zealand and obtaining Title
The first stage is essentially an ‘approval in principle’. The second stage involves providing the necessary survey information to identify the boundaries of the allotments and to demonstrate the required conditions have been met – this is generally undertaken by a surveyor. The third stage involves review of the documentation and registration of any instruments against the title (such as easements etc) – this is generally undertaken by a lawyer.
Applying for a resource consent:
First, determine what zone (Residential, Rural, Township, Commercial, Industrial, Rural Industrial) the property is located in and if there are any Notations (eg. Coastal Protection Area, Flood Hazard Area etc) affecting it (see District Plan).
Once you know what zone and notations apply, consult the subdivision chapter to determine what rules apply, and how your application would be considered (see ‘When is a resource consent required?’ above).
The requirements for subdivision generally relate to:
Minimum lot size
Number of allotments
Minimum dimensions (shape factor)
Provision of services (water, sewage, stormwater, utilities)
The District Plan controls the relocation of second-hand buildings (including shipping containers where they are converted for habitable purposes) within a property or onto a new property.
The relocation of buildings within the District is permitted provided certain standards are met. You can find those standards here. They relate to ensuring that the building is brought up to standard once it is relocated onto a property. If you cannot meet those standards, you will require resource consent.
In addition, you will need to comply with the bulk and location requirements for your zone and for any notations that apply to your property.