Growing Places e-newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of Growing Places, a new quarterly newsletter from the Waikato District Council Consents and Building Quality departments. This e-newsletter has been established to help keep you informed about important information regarding building consents and resource consents in the Waikato district.

If you wish to receive this via email, you can subscribe here.

We’d love to get your feedback

We’re interested in what you think about this newsletter so we can improve it over time. Click here to provide feedback.

Staff update

There have been a number of staff changes in our Consents and Building Quality departments over the past year. We have employed five additional staff in our Consent department to handle the significant increase in Land Information Memoranda (LIMs), resource consent applications and building consent applications that require a planning assessment. We have recruited two new building processing officers to assist with the building consent processing workload. 

Here’s an overview of our teams.

Building Quality Team Structure Consents Operational Team Structure

Processing statistics: A busy year

Demand for housing and land for development has grown rapidly as Auckland demand spills over in our district. The number of resource consent applications received in 2015-2016 creased by 34% compared to the 2014-2015 financial year, and the number of building consent applications for new dwellings was up almost 50%.

In the 2015/16 financial year we received 2006 building consent applications. Of these, 818 were for dwellings. This was a huge increase in workload for the team – in the previous financial year we received 554 applications for new dwellings. Due to the current workload, we are often not getting to look at the building consent applications until day 17-18 so it’s important to put your consent application in well ahead of time. A subset of 1486 of the building consent applications required an assessment against the district plan in the 2015/16 financial year.

LIM staff processed 1666 requests, a jump of 51 per cent since the 2013-14 financial year. Our Property Enquiry Officer received an additional 1935 property enquiries and our Consent Planners handled 4778 duty planner enquiries.

What’s happening: Changes in Pokeno

Over the last few years there has been a significant change in Pokeno, in particular around what is known as the Helenslee Subdivision. Helenslee Stage 6 has 103 lots, while Stage 7 has 46 lots. All of which now have their respective titles. Below are some ‘then and now’ photographs taken by staff.

Helenslee Stage 6 and 7

Pokeno-Land-0027

Process focus: Development Contributions 

The 2015 Development Contributions Policy

Applications for resource consent, building consent or service connection trigger development contributions. New consent applications are assessed against the 2015 Development Contributions Policy on lodgement. Click here to have a look at the current policy.

The fees in the 2015 Development Contributions Policy get adjusted annually, on the 1 July, to account for inflation. The most up to date DC fees are available on our website - these were updated on 1 July 2016.  

Reconsiderations

There’s a process to follow if you think the development contributions charged on your development should be reconsidered. The timeframe for lodging a reconsideration request is 10 working days from when you receive the development contributions advice notice. The timeframe, set by the Local Government Act, is quite tight so we ask that agents let their clients know of the development contributions as soon as possible so you can lodge a request within the 10 day timeframe. Reconsiderations are for times where:

  • The development contribution levies were incorrectly calculated/assessed in accordance with the development contributions policy, or
  • The Council has incorrectly applied its development contributions policy, or
  • The information used to assess the application, or the way in which the Council has recorded or used it when requiring a development contribution, is incomplete or contained errors.

The reconsideration process cannot be used to challenge the Development Contributions Policy. The time for inputting into the policy is when the policy itself is being consulted on.

You will find details on how to lodge a reconsideration request on the Advice Notice issued with the consent or in the Development Contributions Policy.

2009 and 2012 Development Contributions Policies

Development contributions are assessed using the Development Contributions Policy that is in place at the time the consent application is lodged.

For subdivisions, if some years have passed since the development contributions were initially assessed, they will be adjusted for inflation when it comes time for payment (prior to 224c), but can’t be looked at under a more recent Development Contributions Policy.

The Development Contribution Policy is reviewed every three years. The charges are calculated based on expected growth related project costs and expected timing of development. In addition to interest, inflation and actual costs and timing, expected cash flows from consents in progress are taken into account when setting new charging regimes. This means that there can be some variability in charges over time between policies.

Late last year we created a new role within the Consents department to help us provide a better and more consistent service in the area of development contributions. You can contact Annette, our Development Contributions Coordinator, with any development contribution queries you have. 

Changes to be aware of

Increase in fees and charges

On 1 July 2016 some of our fees and charges increased. Please double check the fee information before lodging an application to ensure you pay the correct fee. You’ll find more information about fees and charges here on our website.

Duty Planner services 

To be able to respond to your enquiries faster, we have made improvements to our duty planning services as of March this year. Previously we had a dedicated duty planner who responded to all enquiries, walk-ins and appointments. Managing or responding to enquiries within our targeted three day turnaround was a huge workload for one person. As a consequence, we are now providing a duty planning service that is managed by four planners, who will each respond to enquiries for a certain period of the day, every day.  There is a roster in place where one of the four planners will be available to respond to walk-in enquiries and appointments. 

To ensure availability of a planner and to avoid disappointment, it is always appreciated and preferred if an appointment is made with the rostered duty planner.  Appointments are able to be made through our front counter team, who have full access to our duty planning roster and calendar. 

As a result of these changes we are now responding to enquiries within the three days, sometimes even the same day!  The average response time is now 1.9 working days; before the change it was 2.8 working days.

It also means that we have coverage if any one of the team is away.  We hope that you have noticed the improvements made through our change in service to meet and respond to enquiries and would love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for things that we could do better! 

Responding to your building consent enquiries

To help improve the efficiency of our building consent application assessments, we have made a change to the way we manage and respond to enquiries.

Our building, planning and utilities staff now focus solely on processing applications between 10.00am-3.00pm each day. If you call during this time, our call centre staff will take your details and we’ll get back to you outside of these hours. If you’re contacting us in regard to a further information request, you can email staff directly using the contact details on the letter. Our aim is to respond to phone and email enquiries before 10.00am the next business day, however as this may not always be the case please wait for our staff to contact you. It is hoped that giving our staff uninterrupted time to process building consents will improve the efficiency of our service to you.

The duty Building Inspector times remain the same. That is, 8.00am-10.00 am Monday to Friday at the Ngaruawahia office and 8.30am-10.00am Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Tuakau office.

We prefer one single point of contact for each building consent. We often receive calls regarding the same issue with a building consent application from multiple people. Again, this is to help reduce disruptions to our processing staff. 

LIMS online

We have expanded our online services for ratepayers and prospective property owners in the district. A new ‘Apply for it’ button on our website home page allows prospective property owners to apply online for a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report. Click here to view the new online services.

Useful tools to help you prepare resource or building consent applications

Many of our regular customers will be aware that the Waikato District Plan is now presented in ePlan format. This means you can easily navigate the document, jump between references to other parts of the district plan, and click on defined words and see their meaning.

You may not be aware of one of the useful features of the plan, the Property Rules Search. This tool allows you to find out rules that affect development or activities on selected properties.

In July last year we launched a new external map viewer called Maps Online. The enables you to search for a property and view the:

  • property and road boundaries
  • property and rating information
  • District Plan information including Zoning
  • utilities information (water, wastewater and stormwater).

Maps Online has many features familiar to people who use Google Maps or Google Earth. Our Geographic Information System (GIS) team manages all of our spatial information and continually update the map viewer to keep up with the changing face of Waikato district. Click here to visit the map viewer.

Building-Inspections-0023

District Plan changes impacting consents

At any one time there can be a number of changes to the District Plan working their way through the statutory planning process. These plan changes can impact the consenting process at different times.

Our Strategic Planning and Resource Management team administers the District Plan and manages any changes or reviews of the plan.

We don’t intend to include updates related to current plan changes in this e-newsletter as the information will become out of date quickly. Rather, we encourage you to visit the district plan section of our website for a current list of plan changes and related technical documents.

Where a Plan Change is proposing amendments to the plan text, it will have its own e-plan version. This will not only show the proposed text, but will now also show, for example, which rules are beyond challenge and being treated as operative.  Click here to see the e-plan version of Plan Change 8. We are also currently working on improvements to our Online Maps to help show information about Plan Changes that aim to amend maps and not text. We’ll keep you informed about these improvements.

Our Strategic Planning and Resource Management team are currently working on a review of the whole District Plan. You’ll find more information about the District Plan Review here. To keep informed of the progress of the review we recommend you send us an email to subscribe to the District Plan Review’s own e-newsletter.

Helpful tips

Each quarter we'll include some tips that we hope will be helpful for you when you are compiling an application or when interacting with us.

Completing your resource consent application form

We've recently updated our resource consent application forms for land use and subdivision consents and for changes to consents. We've added an Appendix to these to provide guidance as to what to include in your assessment of environmental effects. Click here to find the new forms listed under planning and resource consents.

Please ensure you pay particular attention to the following points.

Applicant details: As it is our practice to send the resource consent decision to both the Agent and the Applicant, please print the email addresses clearly to ensure the email address is recorded correctly

Billing details: This section needs to be completed and signed by the person/s who will receive the invoice and will be responsible for the payments of any fees or refund.

Lodgement Fees: As your resource consent application will not begin its journey until we receive your lodgement fee we offer the following methods of payment:

  1. Internet banking using the Bill Payment Option and selecting one of the following options
    1. Waikato DC Resource Consents
    2. Waikato DC Clearances
    3. Waikato DC Engineering Approval
  2. Cheque
  3. Payment at the Council Offices
  4. Credit card payment from the Council Website – you will need an application reference number to use this option

To allow our Consents Administration team to track your payment quickly and action it promptly please ensure you identify your method of payment and date of payment on your application form.

General building consent tips

You can assist us in reducing the number of days it takes to process a consent by providing a clear accurate consent application that meets the requirements of the building code and standards. The biggest bottle neck in our system currently is the extra time we spend writing, then receiving and reviewing Further Information Requests (FIRs). When the team receive the further information they stop processing the consents on the list while they are working FIRs. This means we are effectively processing parts of the consent twice.

In line with the rising number of consent applications we are currently experiencing an extremely high inspection workload. At present the wait for an inspection can vary from 3-6 days. It is therefore important you plan your workload well in advance and book inspections ahead of time and not wait till the day before to book as you will be disappointed. If you have an inspection booked and are not going to use it please remember to cancel it as soon as you can. If you have not cancelled the inspection and an inspector turns up, you may still be charged for the visit. It also means it frees up a spot for someone else. 

Another issue you can help us with is to ensure the work we are coming to inspect complies with the consented plans. This means we can pass the inspection at the first visit. Regrettably at present we are failing approximately 20-25% of the inspections.

Heater/Fire building consents

New and replacement freestanding and in-built heaters require a building consent.  Please ensure when you lodge your Heater/Fire consent application you include everything on the Applicant Checklist. The main omissions in these types of applications are details of the roof penetration and flashing, and the pipe and valve layout where a wetback is being fitted to the Heater/Fire. We are currently trying to get these consents processed within 10 working days. You’ll be able to help us do this by providing all the correct details.

Building consents requiring council-approved vehicle entranceways and water connections

The District Plan has minimum requirements for new builds, including provision of access, disposal of stormwater and wastewater and provision of water supply.  If a proposed building needs to gain access to a Council road or connection to a Council Service, we require separate applications . 

We’ve made a small change to the way we process building consent applications. We will now be issuing a section 37 notice for building consents where a vehicle entranceway or service connection has not been approved. The s37 will be uplifted when the application/s have been approved. The forms are available here.

It is recommended that these applications be made before lodging building consent, so that changes can be made to plans if necessary. For example the layout of the building may rely on the entrance location and the available Council services may be restricted, leading to requirements for water tanks, pumps or additional on-site drainage. Putting your application in early will also ensure adequate water services are available on-site for construction.

Section 37 of the Building Act: why and what does it mean for me? 

If a certificate issued under Section 37 of the Building Act is attached to a building consent, it means that the proposal doesn't comply with the District Plan and no building work can proceed until it complies or resource consent is obtained. In some cases it may be easier and more cost effective to submit amended plans that don't breach the District Plan rules rather than to obtain resource consent. Either way it can add costs to a project and we therefore recommend you check the District Plan rules during the design phase.

Common Further Information Requests (FIRs) for Building Consents

Below is a table listing the common FIRs that are issued on building consent applications. Ensuring you provide this information, where relevant to your build, will help ensure you can receive consent quicker and easier.

FIR table

We’d love to get your feedback

We’re interested in what you think about this newsletter so we can improve it over time. Click here to provide feedback.