There are three ways in which resource consent applications can be processed – publicly notified, limited notified or non-notified.

Non-notified applications

Applications are non-notified where the Council is satisfied that:

  • any adverse effects that may result from the proposal are no more than minor; and 
  • any affected persons (usually neighbours) have agreed in writing to the proposal.

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.

Publicly notified and limited notified applications

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 limited notified. 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 a decision.

How the notification decision is made

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:

  • whether the activity is provided for in the zone
  • what effects the activity will have on the surrounding environment, including the road network
  • whether any adverse effects can be avoided or reduced
  • the purpose of the rule(s) that the proposal does not comply with
  • the extent of non-compliance with the rule
  • whether a development that complies with the rules could have the same or similar effects as the proposed development
  • cumulative effects of granting consent for the development (in association with other consents already granted).

Every application is different and each must be considered on its merits.  Formal identification of affected neighbours and a decision on notification can only be made once a complete application is lodged.

If you have questions about the notified application process or obtaining neighbours' approvals you can contact our Duty Planner. For more specific advice about whether your project is likely to be notified we recommend that you engage an experienced professional, for example, a planning consultant or solicitor.