What is a Resource Consent?

If you want to do something that may breach the permitted standards for an activity or that the District Plan does not allow as of right, you will need to apply for a resource consent.

Land use, subdivision and development may affect the environment. Effects can include impacts on residents, such as loss of sunlight, loss of daylight, noise and disturbance. They can be visual, affecting the character of a streetscape or heritage values, or they may create environmental issues such as dust, erosion, land instability, stormwater run-off or increased flood risk.

The District Plan limits the effects that your activity may create 'as of right'. These limits are described in the District Plan as 'Performance Standards'.  You must apply for a resource consent when the activity cannot meet the relevant Performance Standards.   

Resource consents have six classifications:

  • Permitted activity – No resource consent is required. 
  • Controlled activity – Resource consent is required. The Council must grant the consent unless there are special circumstances. Conditions may be imposed on the consent. 
  • Restricted discretionary activity – Resource consent is required. The Council's discretion is restricted to matters that have been specified in the District Plan. Conditions may be imposed on the consent, and the consent may be granted or declined. 
  • Discretionary activity – Resource consent is required. Conditions may be imposed on the consent, and the consent may be granted or declined. 
  • Non-complying activity – Resource consent is required. Conditions may be imposed on the consent and the consent may be granted or declined. 
  • Prohibited activity – Resource consent cannot be applied for and the activity cannot be carried out. 

Types of consents

There are two types of resource consents: land use and subdivision

Land use consent

A land use consent may be required, for example, for:

  • new buildings and additions and alterations to buildings, including garages
  • change of use of a building
  • earthworks, including retaining walls
  • fences on front, side or rear boundaries
  • signs
  • any activity not permitted in the zone.

Subdivision consent

A subdivision resource consent may be required, for example, for:

  • freehold subdivisions
  • cross-lease subdivisions
  • unit title subdivisions
  • boundary adjustments.

Certificate of Compliance

If you require confirmation that a proposed activity is permitted under the District Plan – that is, does not require resource consent – you can apply for a Certificate of Compliance. 

A Certificate of Compliance is not a legal requirement and an activity can be carried out in the absence of a certificate being obtained. However, a Certificate of Compliance offers certainty as it provides you up to five years to carry out the activity, even if the District Plan changes in that time and the activity is no longer permitted. It is also useful if you sell your property, as it provides certainty for potential purchasers that the development or use undertaken does not breach the District Plan.  

Existing Use Certificate

An Existing Use Certificate confirms a legal right to carry out an existing activity. 

An existing use may not comply with the current District Plan. However, the existing use may still be lawful because, for example, it was established before the current rules in the District Plan took legal effect.

To apply for either a Certificate of Compliance or an Existing Use Certificate please see the Application for Certificate of Compliance(PDF, 246KB) .

Deemed permitted marginal / temporary breach

A marginal / temporary infringement can apply to an activity where non-compliance with a District Plan Performance Standard is so minor that:

  • the non-compliance is only 'marginal' – for example, a breach of site coverage by 1%, or a breach that is of very short duration
  • effects on the environment in terms of character, intensity or scale are indiscernible from those allowed by permitted activities
  • there are no people affected. 

The Council will issue a notice stating the proposal is 'deemed permitted' as a marginal / temporary infringement. The notice will clearly state the reasons for allowing the waiver and how / why no parties are affected.

You are not able to make an application to the Council for a marginal / temporary infringement. It is a process the Council can use at its discretion.

There is no set time frame for processing a marginal / temporary infringement, however the Council aims to process all marginal / temporary activities in a timely manner.

Deemed permitted – boundary activity

A boundary activity applies where:

  • one or more boundary activity rules are not met (for example, height recession plane in the residential zone or boundary setbacks in the rural zones)
  • the boundary on the neighbouring property is a private boundary, not a public boundary – for example, road, park / reserve, waterbody
  • written approvals from adjoining neighbours of the boundary have been received with the application and all plans have been signed by them.

If a proposal breaches any rule or performance standard other than those above it cannot be considered a boundary activity and therefore requires a resource consent. If your activity breaches a side or rear boundary and you also have obtained the written permission of the affected neighbours (see above), it will be 'deemed' to be 'permitted'. The Council will issue a notice stating it is permitted with an explanation of why resource consent is not required. If written permission is not obtained, then the activity requires resource consent.

If all required information is received the Council will process the application within 10 working days. If the application is incomplete, the Council will return the application. It is not possible to place the application on hold awaiting further information. Re-lodgement of a new application will restart the clock back to 10 working days. If affected party approval cannot be gained, you will need to apply for a resource consent. 

Fast-track consents

A fast-track resource consent must be processed in 10 working days, rather than the normal 20 working days. This only applies to controlled land-use applications. Subdivisions cannot be fast-tracked.

Home-based business

A home-based business, defined in the District Plan Chapter 2 - Definitions(PDF, 454KB) as a Home Occupation, is when a business activity is run as a secondary use to the dwelling, with the principal use being residential. 

For more information go to the Home Occupations Guide.

Protected trees

The District Plan contains rules in Chapter 10 - Natural Environment(PDF, 283KB) (section 10.5), and a list of protected trees in Appendix C(PDF, 190KB) , that control trimming work and removal of protected trees as well as ground disturbance beneath protected tree canopies and drip lines. You are encouraged to discuss proposed works to a protected tree with a Council Planner before undertaking any tree works.   

For more information go to the Protected Trees Guide(PDF, 197KB).

Signage

Chapter 16 – Signage(PDF, 123KB) of the District Plan deals with signage on private land (excluding election signage, which is dealt with under the Signage Bylaw 2015(PDF, 697KB).

In general, signs should only be located on the site of the activity to which they relate and should not obstruct any official sign or reduce sight lines for traffic. 

Heritage buildings

The District Plan contains rules in Chapter 9 – Cultural Heritage(PDF, 50KB) that control maintenance, interior structural works or alterations, and exterior works. It also controls the erection and removal of structures. A list of heritage buildings is included in Appendix A – Heritage Items(PDF, 380KB).

Buildings constructed before 1900 are archaeological sites, regardless of whether they are listed at Appendix A of the District Plan or not. Complete demolition of a pre-1900 building requires an authority from Heritage New Zealand. It is an offence to modify or destroy an archaeological site without an authority from Heritage New Zealand irrespective of whether the works require resource consent or not.   

If you are proposing to demolish a building in the district that was constructed prior to 1900 you must consult Heritage New Zealand.  

Fences

In the Residential Zone, the following maximum fence heights and design criteria apply.  If you wish to construct a fence in the Residential Zone that does not meet the below standards, resource consent is required. 

 Boundary  SIze
Front

1.2 metres

The height may extend to 1.8 metres in height if the fence is constructed with material or in a manner that provides less than a visual obstruction of 50% per 1 square metreAn example of how this can be achieved is displayed in figure 2 below.

Rear

 

1.8 metres

Side

 

1.8 metres

Fence specifications

Earthworks

Earthworks are a fundamental part of most developments. Earthworks can include the modification of land surfaces by blading, contouring, ripping, moving, removing, placing or replacing soil.

Please refer to Chapter 14 – Earthworks(PDF, 134KB) for the rules and Performance Standards to determine whether you need resource consent for undertaking earthworks as part of your proposal.