Planning Resource Consent

Planning Resource Consents

Planning - Resource Consents

Before embarking on a building project, check to see whether or not you will need approval from the Planning Department of your local Council. Building projects must comply with the District Plan and the Resource Management Act. This section contains relevant information that may benefit your proposed building project during the planning stage. For further information please contact the Planning Unit of your local Council.

The Resource Management Act 1991 (commonly known as the RMA) is the main piece of legislation that sets out the framework for resource management decision-making in New Zealand. The Act’s purpose is to promote sustainable management of natural and physical resources. Local Authorities (Councils) have direct responsibility for the day-to-day management of these resources, in both urban and rural environments, in accordance with the objectives, policies, and rules set out in the District Plan. A guide to the Resource Management Act can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

What is a Resource Consent?

A Resource Consent is a permission from the local Council for an activity that may affect the environment, and that isn’t allowed ‘as of right’ in the District Plan. Local Authorities ensure resource users avoid, remedy, or mitigate adverse effects on the natural and physical environment by considering Resource Consent applications. If you wish to use land in a manner that does not comply with a rule in the District Plan you will need to apply for a Resource Consent.

There are six consent categories and these are generally ranked according to the expected effects they might have.

  • Permitted Activity: No Resource Consent is required for these activities, and are allowed ‘as of right’ subject to complying with any conditions set out in the District Plan (i.e. maximum heights).
  • Controlled Activity: Council must grant a Resource Consent for a Controlled activity unless it has insufficient information to determine whether or not the activity is a Controlled activity. The Council may grant consent subject to conditions that must be complied with. If granted, conditions may only be imposed when they relate to items specified in the District Plan.
  • Restricted Discretionary Activity: Council may grant or decline Resource Consent for a Restricted Discretionary activity; however Council’s discretion is restricted to items specified in the District Plan.
  • Discretionary Activity: Council can grant or decline an application for a Discretionary activity. If granted, it can impose conditions in relation to any matters that help to control any of the activity’s potential adverse effects.
  • Non-complying Activity: Council can only grant an application for a non-complying activity if its adverse effects are minor if it is consistent with the District Plan’s objectives and policies. If Council grants Consent, the Council can impose conditions in relation to any matter that helps to control the activity’s potential adverse effects.
  • Prohibited Activity: Council cannot accept a Resource Consent application for a Prohibited activity.

Activities are classified in the Operative and Proposed District Plans and the Waikato Regional Plan. Every Council’s plan is different and rules will also differ between areas within a city, district or region.

Types of Resource Consent

Local Councils deal with land use and subdivision consents.

  • A land use consent is required where the whole or part of a proposed activity or structure does not fully comply with all the relevant rules in the District Plan, such as moving a second-hand building onto a property; or wanting to build close to a boundary
  • A sub-division consent is required to legally divide land or buildings for separate ownership, such as new lots or sections

The Waikato Regional Council deals with land use consents, water consents, discharge consents, coastal consents. If your proposed activity involves these you will need to contact Waikato Regional Council for more information.
The first step is always to contact the Planning Unit of your local Council to discuss your proposed activity. You will also find the rules and controls relating to specific activities by referring to the relevant section of your local Council’s District Plan. A Resource Consent must be obtained before any activity or development commences, otherwise, you can be prosecuted under the RMA.

Applying for a Resource Consent

Plans and other material supplied with a land use or subdivision consent applications should be accurate and provide enough detail to enable any person to gain a reasonable understanding of the application. If you are unsure about the information required, you will need to seek professional services.

  • Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE)
    One of the most critical parts of the whole application is the content and quality of the Assessment of Environmental Effects. An AEE is an accurate and objective statement about the effects of a proposed activity or structure. Every activity has some effect on the environment, either positive or negative. You must submit an AEE with the application (unless stated otherwise). Your local Council will be able to advise you what you need to include in your application and how much detail you need to provide in the AEE.
  • Affected Parties
    You may also be required to consult with parties who may actually or potentially be affected by the proposed development. How you consult with these parties will depend on the nature and scale of the anticipated effects. For some proposals, you may need to consult only the immediate neighbours to the site: for others, a whole neighbourhood or suburb may need to be consulted. Contact the Planning Unit of your local Council for further information.
  • Notification of Applications
    Once the application has been lodged the Council will consider the proposal and will determine the scale and effects of the proposed activity and any affected parties, and how it should be notified. The Resource Management Act 1991 provides specific guidance to Councils on whether or not an application is to be notified. If it is to be notified it will be either Non-Notified, Limited Notified or Publicly Notified.
    • Non-Notified: If Council is satisfied that the adverse effects on the environment will be no more than minor, and the written approval of all affected parties has been obtained, or the rules in the District Plan(s) state the application may be considered without notification, then the application will not have to be publicly notified. The majority of applications are Non-Notified.
    • Limited Notified: If Council considers that the adverse effects on the environment of the proposal will be more than minor, or consent of all affected parties has not been obtained, the application may still need to be notified to only those affected parties. Affected parties are invited to lodge submissions on the proposal.
    • Publicly Notified: Applications, where the effects on the environment are deemed to be more than minor, will be publicly notified, and advertised by Council. Any parties who could actually or potentially be affected by the proposal are notified in writing of the application, and the application is made available for inspection at the local Council. Any person can make a submission on a Publicly Notified Resource Consent application. The notification may involve a Council hearing (if requested) and a pre-hearing meeting.

Further Information

The above information is intended only as a guide. For further information contact the Planning Unit of your local Council or refer to the sections available online from the Council websites.

Hamilton City Council: Resource Consents
Hauraki District Council: Resource Consents
Matamata-Piako District Council: Resource Consents
Otorohanga District Council: Resource Consents
Thames-Coromandel District Council: Resource Consents
Waikato District Council: Resource Consents
Waipa District Council: Resource Consents
Waitomo District Council: Resource Management

The Ministry for the Environment has published the following information available in the section on the Resource Management Act on their website,

  • Understanding the RMA and how to get involved
  • Applying for a Resource Consent
  • Consultation for Resource Consent Applicants
  • A Guide to Preparing a Basic Assessment of Environmental Effects
  • Information for Affected Persons
  • Making a Submission
  • Appearing at a Resource Consent Hearing
  • Check if you need consents (MBIE website)

The purpose of District Plans is to assist Territorial Authorities (your local Council) to carry out their functions in order to achieve the purpose of the Resource Management Act.

The District Plan is the primary document that manages land use and development within the territorial boundaries through objectives, policies, and rules set out to address resource management issues.

Councils use the district plan rules to determine what activities you can do as of right (permitted activities), what activities you need Resource Consent for, and how certain activities may be carried out. District Plan rules cover things such as residential development, the use of land for agriculture, the subdivision of land parcels, noise and the location and height of buildings.

To view the District Plans please click on the relevant link below. Further information and hard copies of the District Plan are also available by contacting your local Council.

Hamilton City Council – District Plan

Hauraki District Council – District Plan

Matamata Piako District Council – District Plan

Otorohanga District Council – District Plan

Thames Coromandel District Council – District Plan

Waikato District Council – District Plan

Waipa District Council – District Plan

Waitomo District Council – District Plan

Why are there an Operative and a Proposed District Plan?

Some of the Territorial Authorities have Operative and Proposed District Plans. A Proposed District Plan has had legal effect from the date of notification.  The existing Operative District Plan continues to have some legal effect until the Proposed Plan becomes fully operative. Once all of the requirements in the Proposed District Plan are no longer subject to any variations, submissions, and appeals, the plan will be made fully operative and replace the Operative District Plan.

It is necessary to comply with both the Operative and the Proposed Plan with the following exceptions:

  • a rule in the Operative Plan that is inoperative pursuant to section 19 of the RMA;
  • a proposed plan rule that the Council has resolved not to give effect to until the Proposed Plan becomes operative.

Otherwise, both plans must be referred to when establishing if a Resource Consent is required.  Section 19 of the Resource Management Act 1991 provides the circumstances when a new rule can be treated as if it is operative. If no appeals have been lodged, or all appeals have been determined or withdrawn or dismissed, the rule in the Proposed Plan is considered to be effectively operative and any previous rule inoperative.

With population growth comes an increased demand for infrastructure. Growth in the districts cannot be sustained unless we have development and financial contributions. Development Contributions are used by the Council to fund the costs of growth caused by development. Development Contributions are used to pay for new and or expanded infrastructure such as:

  • Network infrastructure (transport, water supply, stormwater drainage, wastewater and wastewater treatment)
  • Community infrastructure (reserves, parks assets, community centers and leisure centers).

They will not be used to pay for renewing or replacing existing infrastructure, although they may contribute if the replacement infrastructure needs to cater for extra demand as a result of growth.

The contributions are calculated on the anticipated costs that the development will have on infrastructure. The amounts vary depending on both the area and the level of growth and infrastructure required to accommodate the development.

Contributions will also vary depending on your local Council and their Development Contributions Policy in their Long-Term Plan (LTP).  Each Council of the Waikato Building Consent Group has the full policy available on their website (click on links above to view), or for further information please contact the Planning Unit of your local Council.

Who pays Development Contributions?

The existing population has already made a considerable investment in the current infrastructure. Those initiating new developments benefit from using existing infrastructure and consequently, they will place additional pressure on it.  Developers, therefore, need to contribute towards the capital expenditure. The contribution is a one-off charge towards the infrastructure of the community. The subsequent operation and maintenance are covered through rates and other charges.

Developers are required to pay a financial or Development Contribution to Council when developing or subdividing a property.  For example:

  • Developers or owners who are creating new developments.
  • Developers or owners who subdivide, cross-lease or unit title their sections.
  • Developers or owners who construct new commercial, retail or industrial buildings or make changes to existing commercial, retail and industrial buildings.
  • Businesses or property owners who change their business use or request a connection to a service – for example, a new water connection when a business premise is being changed from a small retail store to a café.
  • Owners building residential units including minor units, “granny flats” or ancillary flats.

When will Council Charge the Contribution?

Contributions will generally be assessed and charged during the Resource Consent or Building Consent stage, whichever takes place first.

Further Information

For further information about Development Contributions, please contact the Planning Unit of your local Council.