Process focus: Implications of the Proposed District Plan in regards to processing of Resource Consent applications
Council is intending on publicly notifying a new district plan (Proposed District Plan) in the coming months. Once the Proposed District Plan is publicly notified in accordance with the First Schedule process under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), this will have implications for resource consent applications lodged on or after the date of notification.
What this means for applicants/agents preparing a resource consent application?
You or your agent who is preparing a resource consent application will be required to provide an assessment under both the operative district plan (ODP) and the proposed district plan (PDP).
Upon notification of the PDP, objectives and policies have immediate legal effect, however most rules do not. When assessing a resource consent application, only rules with legal effect under RMA section 86B(3) can be taken into account. All other proposed rules must be ignored at the time of assessment. The processing planner must however have regard to the objectives and policies of the PDP under section 104(1)(b). In terms of the PDP assessment, it will not be possible to complete a full assessment if the rules applicable to the application have no legal effect, therefore in most cases, the assessment under the PDP will stop at the objectives and policies.
The practical effect of this is that the processing planner is unable to make a recommendation whether to grant or decline a resource consent application under the PDP. Instead, the recommendation to grant or decline consent will be made solely under the ODP (where a full assessment of all provisions is possible).
Once the proposed rules relevant to an application have legal effect (after decisions have been released), the processing planner must separately assess the application against both the ODP and PDP up to the point of making a recommendation whether to grant or decline consent under each plan. If the same outcome is produced under both plans (e.g. grant/grant or decline/decline), then no weighting between the plans is required.
However, if a different outcome is produced under each plan (e.g. a decline under one and a grant under the other), it is necessary to go a step further and undertake a weighting exercise between the two plans.
Will the assessment of the PDP result in additional time / costs?
The assessment of the PDP is likely to result in additional time spent by an agent and the processing planner due to assessing the proposal under two district plans and therefore additional cost to applicants.
Assessing applications while provisions in a proposed plan are changing can be complex, so we are preparing information to help you understand this, and hope to have this available to share with our customers in the coming months, ahead of notification of the plan.