Planning and Resource Consents
Planning consents are required where a proposed activity triggers a requirement under the Stratford District Plan. This is because the proposal is included in either a general rule or a specific rule relating to the particular zone or area in which the proposed activity is located. It may also be because, despite being listed as a permitted activity, the specific proposal does not meet all of the required standards given in the District Plan.
The Stratford District Council processes two types of resource consents:
- Land use (including relocated buildings, signs and yard dispensations)
The Taranaki Regional Council processes applications for discharges to land, air and water. An activity may require consents from both the Stratford District Council and the Taranaki Regional Council. When consents are notified then a joint hearing is held concerning all submissions although typically each Council will release its decision separately.
Building Consents are separate from resource consents. If you are carrying out building work in conjunction with a subdivision or other activity, you will need to check if you require a building consent as well as a resource consent. Both can be lodged with Council at the same time.
The overall process for a resource consent is:
- Determine whether you need a Planning Consent for your project. You are advised to discuss this with Council staff before actually making an application for consent.
- Apply for a Planning Consent. This must include:
- Application form
- Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE)
- Written approval from affected parties
- Other supporting documents (e.g. plans, site elevations, etc)
- Council determines if your consent requires public or limited service notification.
- If your consent is notified Council:
- Advertises your application and/or advise those parties directly affected by the proposal)
- Receives submissions.
- Organise a pre-hearing meeting to try and resolve the issues.
- Organise a hearing before an independent Hearings Commissioner
- A planning report on the application is prepared. This is either for the Hearing (if notified) or makes a recommendation to Council (if non-notified)
- The decision is released. This will be either by the Hearings Commissioner (if notified) or by the Chief Executive of Council (if non-notified).
- A granted consent is for a specific activity or proposal and will typically contain conditions that have to be met either before the activity can start or throughout the time the activity is carried out. The consent can be appealed against by either an applicant or any submitter.
How long will it take and how much will it cost?
- Council must decide within 10 working days of receiving an application whether or not to notify it.
- If it is non-notified, you can expect a decision within 20 working days.
- If your application requires public or limited notification, the timeframe is at least three to four months.
You can help to make sure that the process is as fast as possible by:
- Fully explaining your proposal and what effects it will have so that affected people can assess the environmental effects.
- Provide a good quality Assessment of Environmental Effects, which does not underestimate the scope or effects of what is proposed.
- Provide good quality plans and elevations clearly showing the areas of non-compliance with the District Plan.
- Ensure your application is complete.
- Pay your deposit - an application will not be processed until the deposit is received.
High quality applications are typically processed by Council within 10 working days.
Fees can be found in the Fees and Charges document. The fees are a deposit only and the full cost of processing the application (less the deposit) is invoiced after the consent decision has been released.
Financial contributions may be required as a condition of consent and are also invoiced after the release of the decision. Details on financial contributions are available here.
Making an application for consent
Before you lodge your application for a Planning Consent, make sure you clearly understand your intended activity. What is it exactly that you intend to do and how do you intend to do it? Also, be sure to talk with Council staff and any people who may be affected by your activity, such as neighbours.
A number of information sheets and checklists to help in putting an application for consent together can be found here.
The checklists will give you guidance as to the minimum amount and types of information which are required to allow Council to process your application. If information is not supplied then your application may not be processed until the Council is satisfied that it is complete.
Be aware of the time it might take to obtain your Planning Consent. Allow for this in your planning and do not wait for your building consent to be granted before applying for a Planning Consent.
Return the completed application form and the information below to us:
- The completed application form.
- An Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE).
- Site plans and elevation plans.
- Any information required by the District Plan
- Written approvals from affected parties.
- The deposit. (Further charges may be incurred depending on the time it takes to process the application.)
Affected Persons Approval
What is an Affected Persons Approval?
Typically Affected Persons Approvals are required to be provided with land use consent and some subdivision consent applications from the owners and occupiers of land in the vicinity or next to the land where the activity is to take place. Council will assist you to identify affected persons before you lodge an application.
An Affected Persons Approval is a written statement by a person that they do not have any concerns with a proposed activity. By signing an approval form that person confirms that they have seen and also signed:
- the consent application form, and
- a copy of any site plans, and,
- relevant details of the Assessment of Environmental Effects.
A person accepts, by signing an approval, that Council is unable to consider any effects from the proposal on them. This also means that the person cannot object to any part or effect of the activity.
The Ministry for the Environment provides a useful guidance document, "Your Rights as an Affected Person", which is available from their Quality Planning website. This site also provides much information about Council planning processes.
Restrictions on Affected Persons Approvals
All Affected Persons Approvals must:
- be signed by each person listed as either:
- an owner, or
- an occupier, or
- a person with authority to sign on behalf of other listed owners or occupiers, and
- not contain any conditions of approval.
If an affected person has any concerns, these must be dealt with by the applicant before the consent application is given to Council.
Withdrawal of Affected Persons Approval
Any person may take back their written approval at any time before a decision is made on a consent application. The application is then notified and any effects on them can be taken into account. The consent may still be granted, but conditions of the consent may vary as a result.
What is an effect?
An effect is any impact which an activity has or might have on people or the environment. Effects can be less than minor, minor or more than minor.
An effect which is more than minor cannot include any effect on a person:
- who has signed an Affected Persons Approval, or
- on the same property as where the activity is to be, or
- on adjacent land, which can include land in the same area as the property where the activity is to be, not just next to that land.
The effects of a proposal must go beyond the surrounding area for those effects to be more than minor. When effects are more than minor then the proposal must be publically notified.
Non - Notification
If an applicant is able to:
- provide written approvals from all persons who are possibly affected, and
- the effects of the proposal are no more than minor, and
- there are no special circumstances requiring public notification,
then an application can be processed on a non-notified basis.
This results in a large reduction in both time and costs for processing the application. The consent decision is made by Council staff.
If the applicant is not able to provide all of the written approvals, but there are no special circumstances requiring public notification and the effects are minor, then the application may be processed on a limited service notification basis.
Any affected persons who did not provide written approvals can make submissions.
If the effects are more than minor (beyond the surrounding area) then the application must be publically notified. This involves public advertisements, a public notice at the proposed site and direct notification to any known affected persons or interest groups.
Any process involving notification takes three to four months to complete, compared with two to three weeks for a non-notified application.
A publicly notified application is advertised in the newspaper (Daily News and Stratford Press) and any person may make a submission. The application is also sent to all of those persons whom the Council considers may be directly affected.
An application notified on a limited service basis is sent to the previously identified potentially affected persons, but is not advertised. Only those persons who are sent the application may make a submission.
Submissions may be made for up to a month after notification. Pre-hearing meetings will usually be arranged to try to settle concerns without needing to formally hear the application. Pre-hearing meetings are informal but the applicant and submitters must attend. The meetings are usually chaired by Council staff. Where agreement is able to be reached, the application may be amended and the submissions are withdrawn. The consent decision is then made by Council staff.
When that agreement cannot be reached then a Consent Hearing is held. These are formal public hearings before a Hearings Commissioner. Council has no input except to provide a specialist planning report which is sent to everyone involved before the hearing. In the Stratford District the consent decision on a notified application is made by the Hearings Commissioner.
Any appeal against all or a part of any decision must be lodged directly with the Environment Court. Any party to a consent application may appeal the decision.
When is a hearing required?
A hearing is required if we consider it necessary, or if the applicant or a submitter requests a hearing.
If a proposal requires consents from Taranaki Regional Council as well as the District Council, a joint hearing may be held. A joint hearing enables all relevant consent authorities to hear the same evidence at the same time, rather than parties having to present their information separately. Normally a decision will be made jointly but issued separately.
What happens before a hearing?
- All parties will receive notice of the date, time and venue for the hearing at least 10 working days beforehand.
- The planning report and recommendations on the application will be circulated to the applicant and to all submitters who indicated that they wished to speak at the hearing at least five working days before the hearing is held.
- The applicant and the submitters are asked to provide copies of their written evidence at the hearing for all other parties present.
- If any person intends to give written or spoken evidence in Maori, the hearings coordinator must be informed of this at least five working days before the hearing so that a qualified interpreter can be provided. Alternatively, the person giving evidence may provide their own interpreter.
- Anyone wishing to use presentation equipment (slides etc) should contact Council at least five working days before the hearing to make these arrangements.
What happens at a hearing?
- The Hearing Commissioner opens the hearing, introduces the parties involved, identifies the applications being considered and decides on any administrative details such as the hearing timetable, specific requests, etc.
- The applicant (or their representatives) then presents their application and calls any experts they may have to provide evidence in support of their application.
- Submitters who indicated they wished to be heard at the hearing are then given the opportunity to present their submissions. They will have the opportunity to use experts or representatives to provide evidence in relation to their submission if they wish.
- The applicant then has the right of reply, to respond to any issues raised by the submitters.
- The Planning Officer may be asked to respond to matters raised during the hearing.
- The Hearing Commissioner will then close the public part of the hearing and will then retire to consider his/her decision. Typically the meeting will be adjourned at this point.
- At any time the Hearing Commissioner may decide to adjourn the hearing to allow time for further information to be provided, or for further consultation to occur.
What are the rules?
- The Hearing Commissioner has complete discretion over the conduct of the hearing and will clarify his/her requirements of and any allowances or restrictions on the applicant and submitters, and their representatives, at the start of the hearing.
- The applicant and every submitter who stated that they wished to be heard, may speak and call expert evidence at the hearing – either in person or through a representative, e.g. consultant, lawyer, technical expert.
- The Hearing Commissioner may address questions to any of the parties at any stage of the hearing.
- No cross-examination of parties is allowed. In some cases, at the discretion of the Hearing Commissioner, other parties may seek clarification of particular points by asking questions through the Hearing Commissioner.
- If there are several parties who wish to speak on the same issue the Hearing Commissioner may, in order to minimise repetition, limit the time each party may speak.
- The applicant's right of reply must be confined to matters arising out of the evidence or any legal points that require clarification. No new issues may be introduced at this stage.
What happens after the hearing?
The decision, and the reason for it, will be made in writing. The decision is usually notified no later than 15 working days after the hearing. The applicant and all submitters, including those who chose to not attend or speak at the hearing, will receive a copy of the decision.
Any party to consent proceedings can appeal either the decision or some of the consent conditions. If the application for a resource consent was not publicly notified, or it was publicly notified but did not receive any submissions, an appeal may either:
- Object to the decision under Section 357 of the RMA. This requires Council to reconsider its decision. The reasons for any objection must be set out in writing and received by Council within 15 working days of receipt of the decision letter. The reviewed decision may then also be appealed to the Environment Court.
- Be directly to the Environment Court (without first requiring Council to reconsider the decision) under Section 121 of the RMA.
- If the application received submissions, either the applicant or any of the submitters can appeal the decision and/or conditions to the Environment Court under Section 121 of the RMA.
An appeal must be lodged with the Environment Court within 15 working days of receiving the notice of the decision. A filing fee must accompany the notice of appeal. Appeals must be lodged with the Registrar of the Environment Court at the following address:
Registrar Environment Court
PO Box 5027
The Notice of Appeal should be made on the form available from the Environment Court and state the reasons for the appeal and what it is that is being sought, e.g. for the consent to be declined, or some conditions of the consent to be changed. Within five working days of the appeal being lodged, the appellant must also serve copies of the Notice of Appeal on:
- The people who made submissions on the application, and;
- The applicant; and
Click here for all forms relating to Planning and Resource Consents.
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