There are three ways in which resource consent applications can be processed – publicly notified, limited notified or non-notified.
Applications are non-notified where the Council is satisfied that:
Most applications processed by the Council are non-notified.
The decision on a non-notified application is usually made by senior Council staff, although in some instances a Council Hearings Panel or Commissioner may make the decision.
The timeframe for processing a non-notified application is generally 20 working days. This is extended if additional information needs to be provided, or a hearing is needed.
If the Council considers that the adverse effects of a proposal on the environment beyond the adjacent properties are likely to be more than minor, the application must be publicly notified. This can also be requested by the applicant. A publicly notified application is advertised in the local newspapers and the Council also informs the affected neighbours. Anyone can lodge submissions supporting or opposing the application.
Where the adverse effects beyond the adjacent properties are minor but the affected neighbours have not given their written approval, an application must be processed on a limited notified basis. A limited notified application is not advertised in the newspapers, but the Council informs any affected neighbours who have not provided written approval to the application. These neighbours are the only people who are allowed to make a submission on the application.
People who lodged submissions, the applicant and Council officers present their cases at a hearing to a Council Hearings Panel or a Commissioner, who then makes a decision on whether the application should be granted or declined. If no submissions are received a hearing may not be needed.
Limited notified applications usually take around four and a half months to process, while publicly notified applications take approximately six months. These time frames are shortened if a hearing is not required.
As an alternative to having a notified or limited notified application being considered by the Council, an applicant can request that their application instead be directly referred to the Environment Court for consideration and a decision.
The decision on whether an application is non-notified, limited notified or publicly notified is made by the Council, based on the rules in the District Plan and criteria set out in the Resource Management Act 1991. These include whether adverse effects will be minor and whether all affected parties have given their written approval to the application.
A wide range of factors are taken into account when deciding whether adverse effects are minor, and who might be affected by a proposal. These include:
Every application is different and each must be considered on its merits. However a Council planner will usually be able to give you preliminary advice at a pre-application meeting on whether your application is likely to be notified and whether you should request written approval from your neighbours. Formal identification of affected neighbours and a final decision on notification is made later once a complete application is lodged.