Resource consent requirements causing headaches?

New Zealand currently has a total of 65 district, city, or unitary plans across the country. These plans (we’ll call them district plans) include objectives, policies, and rules to guide development within a council’s geographic area. These rules dictate whether or not resource consent is required for proposed development.

Most of the time, the planning system works reasonably well. Larger developments may need to obtain resource consent so that the council can consider any adverse effects of the development. This also gives councils the opportunity to impose conditions of consent to ensure that any ongoing effects are avoided, remedied, or mitigated.

Sometimes, however, the planning system does not work so well. Rules in district plans may have unintended consequences whereby some forms of development are required to obtain resource consent, even though the potential effects of such development may be minimal. This can cause headaches for developers and people wanting to do something as simple as moving a complete prefabricated house onto an empty section.

So what can you do if you keep having to apply for resource consent for relatively simple construction work with minimal impacts on neighbours? An initial step is to find out when the district plan is next scheduled for review.

District plan reviews are the best opportunity to have your say regarding specific rules and resource consent requirements. The district plan review process is guided by the Resource Management Act and is very specific about how and when the public must be involved. Typically, councils will advertise that their district plan is under review and advise the public when the submission period closes.

Within the submission period, you are able to lodge a submission seeking the change or removal of specific rules within a district plan. Your submission is more likely to be successful if you provide clear reasons why the rule needs to be changed or removed.

At this point, you may consider joining forces with other groups who may be experiencing the same problem with the district plan, and lodging a joint submission. You may even approach a planning consultant to prepare the submission for you, and share the cost between fellow joint submitters.

At the close of the submission period, the council must consider every submission received. It may or may not agree to change or remove any rules as per your submission. The clearer you make your case, the more likely the council may be to agree with your submission.

District plan reviews are a great opportunity to ensure that the planning process is fit for purpose. Don’t miss the chance to have your say – keep an eye out for advertisements about district plan reviews and get your submission in pronto. Don’t leave it all to the planners, they are not always in the best position to understand industry constraints.

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