By Anna Bensemann, Senior Planner, Baseline Group, 03 578 7299, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our clients often ask how much it will cost to get a resource consent and how long will it take. The only answer we can give; “it depends”. It’s like asking a farmer how much they will make off a crop that is six months from harvest. There are many factors that come into play that may change the final outcome. For a crop there are weather conditions, diseases, timing and effectiveness of spray regimes, access to water for irrigation, and the sale price of the product. No farmer has an absolute answer, although they may have an idea based on past experiences.
In the same vein, there are many factors that are involved when considering a resource consent application. There are five types of consents that can be sought; subdivision consents, discharge permits, water take permits, coastal permits and all other consents collectively known as land use consents. Each of these has different requirements that might complicate how long they take to prepare and how long a council may need to process them. Time spent preparing and processing a resource consent application will determine the costs associated with that consent.
When preparing a resource consent application, we first determine the activity that requires consent, and look at the unique or features of the site. To do this we research the relevant district, regional, and coastal plans for both the site and the activity.
Within the site we look for areas prone to natural hazards such as flooding, land slip or the effects of earthquakes. We also look for known cultural or heritage sites, areas of significant vegetation, identified trees, or wetlands, waterways or coastal margins that need to be protected from development. We look at the size of the site, if it’s rural or urban, and where it is located in transport network systems.
In terms of the activity we look at the scale of the activity and if it’s anticipated by the relevant planning framework. Subdivision is a good example, with minimum allotment sizes set out in district plans to ensure there is not a loss of productive rural land parcels, that houses do not end up too close to each other, and to avoid houses in areas that are subject to natural hazards.
We also look at the effects of an activity to make sure it will not have an adverse effect on the environment. This includes consideration of air, water and soil health, overuse of natural resources, or degradation of the quality of resources. Water permits are an example where the planning framework is required to limit how much water is abstracted from rivers and aquifers, and to ensure that there is sufficient water remaining for aquatic life and ecosystems.
Just like a farmer considering the potential profit from a crop, planners can give an idea of the costs and time involved with getting a resource consent based on their experiences. However, the devil’s in the detail of the actual site, the proposed activity, and the limits set out in the relevant planning framework.