Growing Places e-newsletter

Welcome to the second edition of Growing Places, a quarterly newsletter from the Waikato District Council Consents and Building Quality departments. The purpose of this e-newsletter is to 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.

In this issue:

General update: A busy quarter as consent applications continue to increase
Staff update
What's happening: Significant growth at Ngaruawahia and Horotiu 
Process focus: 223s/224s and subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz 

Helpful tips and reminders:

Changes to be aware of:

General update: Consent applications continue to increase

Third-fastest growing district in the country

Figures recently released in our 2015/2016 Annual Report show that Waikato is currently the third-fastest growing district in the country after Selwyn (in Canterbury) and Queenstown.

Mayor Allan Sanson says the Council is seeking new ways to maintain and build the infrastructure the district needs to support an expected population of more than 26 per cent over the next 15 years (from about 69,900 this year to 88,200 in 2031).

Out of the 2004 building consents issued in 2015/16, 791 were for new dwellings – an increase of 54%.

The number of building consents for new dwellings in the past four years:

  • 2012/13: 363
  • 2013/14: 506
  • 2014/15: 511
  • 2015/16: 791
third-fastest growing district in the country

Resource Consents update

We received 266 resource consent applications between 1 July and 30 September. This is a 17% increase over the same period last year and continues to be a demanding workload for staff across the consents unit. 

Planners continue to be busy providing duty planner information. The volumes are similar to last year – we have had 1309 enquiries since 1 July – however pre-application services have increased by 15% compared to the same time last year.  

Our Land Development Engineers are particularly busy, with work to provide engineering approvals, subdivision clearances, and s223 and s224 applications. There is already an increase of 20% on same period last year. All applications have been approved since 1 July this year resulting in 224 new lots being created across the district. 

Our Consent Administration team continue to be very busy with LIMS and Property Enquiries both with high volumes similar to last year. 

The Project Information Officers, who undertake planning and engineering reviews of building consents, have new staff on board – one replacement and one new role. Please be patient as they get up to speed in their new roles.    

Building Consents update

Between 1 July and 30 September we received 497 building consent applications, of which 197 have been new dwellings. These high numbers continue to put strain on our ability to process consents in a timely manner.

As the industry deals with its own pressures, we have noticed that the quality of applications we are receiving has also declined, which leads to longer turnaround times. If the application is poor, our review officers have to spend more time checking, and often request further  information.

Please make sure your application meets the codes and standards. This means we can spend less time reviewing the application and less time on further information requests. Every minute we spend on processing requests for further information is time we could be spending on the next consent.

To help us bring the times down, we're currently outsourcing the review of some building consents to a company in the South Island. We are also looking at another contractor to assist with the review of building consents.

We are in the early stages of planning an online building consent process and although an online process is not going to be a silver bullet, it will definitely help with time saving. 

New staff on board

Resource Consents staff changes

We’ve had some changes in the Land Development Engineering Team, with Mike Kulpa leaving us and Peter Henderson returning to a Senior LDE role. We are currently advertising to replace Mike.

We are expecting Michelle Carmine to return in November for three days a week. She will be helping the team with Business Improvement work.

We've had to say farewell to Liz Saunders from the LIM Team but she is still with Waikato District Council in another role. 

We have appointed Dianne Keast to a Consent Administrator role on a permanent basis.

We have two new Project Information Officers – Sara Abusidou joined the team in August, and Josef Holland has just joined the team.  Both Sara and Josef will be working from the Tuakau office on building consent checks.

Building Consents staff changes

Leanne Beal and Adam Bradford have started as Building Review Officers. We also have a new Building Inspector – Wayne Lomax.

Leanne is helping Keith Ryland review consents for the northern part of the district while Adam is helping Graeme Delaney review consents for the southern part of the district.

Wayne, who was formerly working for the planning and engineering team, has joined us as a building inspector and will be helping out the team with inspections in the northern part of the district. We are currently seeking an additional building inspector to assist with the workloads. This will bring the number of inspectors to 11.

Building-Inspections-0023
Ngaruawahia

Significant growth at Ngaruawahia and Horotiu

We are starting to see significant growth in Ngaruawahia and Horotiu, with a number of new developments underway.

On the corner of Horotiu Bridge Road and River Road, there are 10 rural-residential lots being developed. All lots are more than 5000m² in size and zoned ‘country living’.

Building has started at the Riverview Terraces subdivision, just south of Ngaruawahia on Great South Road (see photograph above). The subdivision has 39 residential lots and is situated beside the Waikato River and the Ngaruawahia Golf Course. Stage 1 has sold out. Proposed plan change 17 seeks to rezone some land in this area, some for residential purposes.

Future Proof, the Waikato Growth Strategy, identifies Ngaruawahia and Horotiu as key growth areas and it’s expected that the industrial zoning will generate new employment opportunities for local residents.

More than 150 hectares of land has been allocated for industrial development in Horotiu: 56 hectares of land has been zoned for industrial development up to 2021, 84 hectares zoned for development between 2021 and 2041, and a further 10 hectares will be zoned for development after 2041.

Horotiu is home to Northgate, a 109ha business park. The business park is equal distance from Auckland and Tauranga ports and its exceptional access to major road and rail links has been a major drawcard for Ports of Auckland, who purchased 33ha of land in Northgate for a Waikato-based freight hub.

Horotiu will also be home to the new Te Awa River Ride cycle bridge. The new suspension bridge over the Waikato River will be approximately 135m in length and is about 2km north of the existing Horotiu Bridge. It is due to open in February 2017.

When completed, the Te Awa trail will provide a continuous riverside cycling/walking path between Ngaruawahia and Hamilton and eventually to Horohora. The total length will be 70km. 

Process focus: 223s/224s and subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz

Eve and Dorothy manage our subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz email address and administer the post subdivision approval processes. Here’s some information that will help with a smooth, efficient process:

  • subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz is for RMA 223 and 224 applications and post subdivision enquiries.
  • if you are emailing subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz, you do not need to copy in anyone else. If you are emailing a specific staff member you don’t need to copy in subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz.
  • subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz there is no need to send a hard copy. However, there are two exceptions:
    1. A hard copy (eg USB/CD) of as built CAD files. We don’t yet have an effective way of saving these in our document management system therefore USB/CD is still required.
    2. Following receipt of documents occasionally Eve or Dorothy may come back to you and request a 3x hard copies. This will generally be for larger subdivisions.

We have been receiving more and more resource consent applications through subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz.  Please send new resource consent applications to applications@waidc.govt.nz

Property inquires, such as copies of resource consent for subdivisions or land use consents, need to go through to our Property Information Officer. This can be done by contacting the call centre on 0800492452 or online by clicking here.

Subdivision lapse dates

A subdivision consent lapses on the date specified in the consent. If no date is specified, it will lapse five years after the commencement of the consent. Under RMA s125 an application can be made to extend the lapse date however, as a number of the District Plan policies and objectives regarding subdivision have changed in the last five years, there is no guarantee that an extension would be granted.

We suggest you do not rely on applying for a s125 extension of lapse date. A subdivision consent does not lapse if the consent is given effect to – i.e. when a survey plan in respect of the subdivision has been submitted to council under section 223. As long as your survey plan/request for 223 is received as complete before the lapse date, it can be processed. We have 10 working days to approve the 223 application and in some circumstances can extend the council 223 processing timeframe.  We do not have authority to waive or extend a lapse date after the fact, it's very important that a complete application for 223 is received before the lapse date.

Requests for 223 

With your request for 223 to release the E-Survey in Land Online, please remember to send in all documentation required for any ‘prior to 223’ conditions. For example, engineering plans that require submission/approval prior to 223.

224c applications 

Missing documentation for conditions compliance, such as producer statements or completions certificate for engineering conditions, will slow the process down. We hold this part of application until all documentation is received before passing to the Land Development Engineer for engineering approval.

Feedback wanted on our 224c TA Approval Package 

We're streamlining some aspects of our post subdivision processes. One thing we’re reviewing is the 224c TA Approval Package that you receive from us once the 224 has been signed.

These packages currently include:

  • 224 Pre check
  • 224 TA Approval
  • legal documents
  • clearance account showing that it is paid

We’d like to know whether you (surveyors) want to receive the 224c TA Approval Package and what you want to see in it? Is the package of use to you? 

Please send feedback on the packages to subdivisions@waidc.govt.nz

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Changes to be aware of

Bonding incomplete subdivision works – new guideline

Council has been receiving an increasing number of requests to bond conditions of consent as incomplete works. This has led to discussions over the number of, and appropriateness of the items being bonded, which has resulted in a review of Council’s “Bond guidelines” document.

After considerable effort from our admin team to reduce the amount of bonds we are currently keeping on account, there still remains 23 bonds totalling about $650,000 for incomplete works. The new guidelines have been developed to reduce this number and provide a clear description of the circumstances in which Council will consider bonding conditions of consent.

Key changes are as follows:

  • Bonds must either be applied for under RMA Section 108(b) or Section 222
  • A minimum value of $10,000 is required for bonds to be considered
  • Bonds under $25,000 will be required to be paid in cash
  • A maximum of six months will be allowable for conditions to be satisfied
  • No utilities or underground services will be considered for bonding.

As has always been the case, Council retains the right to accept or reject an application for bonding based upon evidence provided in accordance with the policy.

View our updated bond guideline.

Plan Change 8 (Waikato Section) is now operative

‘Plan change 8 – Waikato Section’ became operative on Monday 26 September 2016.

There are more than 20 changes to the Waikato Section of the Plan. The main changes are: 

  • The definitions of kitchen, dwelling, indicative road, Industrial Activity, building; and peak hour 
  • Various Plan mapping details
  • Amendments to building setback rules
  • Including a new rule for “Buildings for productive rural activities”
  • Road hierarchy details
  • Amendments to fix a number of other technical drafting.
The changes have now been included in the Waikato District ePlan on the Council website. You can view the decision document here.

Plan Change 8 (Waikato Section) - Tanks and building setbacks

The definition of Building, in regards to tanks, has been amended as a result of Plan Change 8.

Now that it is being implemented, it has become apparent that there is some ambiguity in the rule. This has been passed on to our Policy Team to deal with in the District Plan Review. In the meantime, please use the following interpretation that the building setback rules do not apply to tanks that are less than 35,000L in size and protrude no more than 1m above natural ground level.

Plan Change 8 (Waikato Section) - Removing material from site

Condition ‘d’ of permitted activity earthworks rules for the Waikato Section of the District Plan controls the removal of material from the site. This condition has been amended as a result of Plan Change 8 for some zones.

It has been removed from

  • Living Zone (21.24  Earthworks),
  • Business Zone (23.26 Earthworks) and
  • Industrial Zone (24.25 Earthworks).

The removal of material from sites in these zones can be done as a permitted activity, so long as all other permitted activity conditions are complied with.

It remains in:

  • Pa Zone rules (22.22 Earthworks),
  • Coastal zone (26.25 Earthworks),
  • Whaanga Coast (26A.25 Earthworks),
  • Country Living Zone (27.24 Earthworks) and
  • Recreation Zone (28.22 Earthworks)
  • 23B.15 Earthworks (Tamahere Business Zone Performance Standards)
  • Rural zone 25.25 Earthworks (as “do not remove material from adjoining sites in common ownership or occupation”)
The removal of material from sites in these zones cannot be done as a permitted activity.

Status of Non-residential buildings in the Coastal Zone (Waikato Section)

We have recently done some work to clarify the rules regarding non-residential buildings in the Coastal Zone, Waikato Section. As a result, these buildings now require resource consent.

  • Building Rule 26.48.1 (Non-residential building) of the District Plan states that a non-residential building is a permitted activity in the Coastal Zone subject to conditions on the size of its gross floor area. However, the permitted activity status under that rule does not determine the overall activity status for a non-residential building.
  • Rule 26.10 states that for an activity to be permitted in the zone, it must comply with all land use effects and building rules.
  • Rule 26.44 (Height and Bulk) and Rule 26.49 (Building Setbacks) do not include permitted activity rules which means, regardless of a permitted gross floor area under rule 26.48.1, a non-residential building will need resource consent, at the least as a controlled activity under rule 26.44 and 26.49. From 9 September 2016 and onwards we have been processing relevant building and resource consents with this interpretation. 


Pool law changes will save lives

All pools and spa pools are required to be fenced in a manner that complies with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987.  The Act exists to protect young children from the dangers of unfenced swimming pools and spa pools.  It does this by requiring owners to fence their pools.

It is our duty to enforce these requirements and take all reasonable steps to make sure that the Act is complied with. Pool owners and people, including tenants, with pools on their property all have duties under the Act.

Changes to the fencing of swimming pools laws are currently before Parliament. The proposed changes will strike a better balance between protecting young children from drowning in home pools and making the legislation more workable for pool owners and local councils.  This Bill will amend the Building Act 2004 and replace the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987.

Here are some of the proposed changes: 

  • The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (the Act) aims to promote the safety of young children by requiring pool owners to fence certain swimming pools.
  • Councils will be required to inspect swimming pools every five years.
  • Child-resistant spa pools will no longer require an additional means of restricting access.
  • Retailers will be required to inform people who purchase spa pools and portable pools of their obligations.
  • A graduated enforcement regime for breaches of the requirements of the Act will be created.
  • Garden ponds and other water hazards will be exempt if they are not intended for swimming.

The proposed changes take into account the 392 submissions received from safety groups, the pool industry, local councils, pool owners and others during public consultation.  Once the Bill is passed, the changes will take effect via amendment of the Building Act 2004.

In the interest of community safety, it is our policy not to charge for the initial inspection of your pool.  As subsequent visits occur to check that compliance has been met, these will be charged at the current rate for pool inspections and an invoice will be sent to you after each additional inspection.

Making resource consent notification decisions

When we process an application and come to a decision on notification we often call the agent prior to signing the decision. We do this when there are people that we consider to be affected by the proposal. The purpose of our call is to give applicants the opportunity to seek the written approvals of those affected parties before proceeding to notification.

However, what we're finding is that applicants and their agents are wanting to provide more information in order to try to change the pending decision about notification. Because this action is not provided for in the RMA, we've been asked to use s37 extensions to time frames while we consider additional information. This approach leads to extended time delays, uncertainty and increased costs to cover additional notification assessments.

In the interests of no surprises, we want our customers to be informed that going forward we will continue to be firm in providing three options when we consider there to be affected parties:

  1. An opportunity to seek written approvals
  2. Proceed with limited notification
  3. Re - lodge your application with all information you want to be considered in a notification assessment.

Before the planners make their recommendation on notification they may call to discuss concerns or issues with you on subjects that may have relevance to a notification decision such as mitigation measures.  It is our preference to iron out issues at this time and at time of s92 so that we have all the information to make a notification decision.  Please use this time constructively to avoid surprises, conflict and disappointment down the track.

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Helpful tips and reminders

Design of Trusses

Here is The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) advice to designers in how to include trusses within their certificates of work:

MBIE is aware that in many instances, a Design LBP will use a truss fabricator to create plans and specifications for the trusses in a building. In these instances, MBIE's view is that the plans and specifications should be incorporated into the design for the rest of the building to be covered by a single certificate of work. In signing the certificate of work, the Design LBP, having applied the skill and care reasonably required of a design professional, is stating that all restricted building work in the plans and specifications complies with the relevant provisions of the Building Code.

In order to make this statement, the Design LBP would need to make sure they have provided the correct information to the truss fabricator and would need to check that the information used by the detailer is correct and matches what was supplied. The Design LBP needs to ensure that the truss will fit in with the rest of the building’s design to meet the requirements of the Building Code.

See Appendix C example, copied below, from the MBIE Guidance on the use of Certificates of Work, Producer Statements and Design Features for Chartered Professional Engineers. 

MBIE example

Easements included in a Memorandum versus a Schedule?

Easements in a Memorandum

These are the compulsory easements that Council includes as a subdivision consent condition under section 220(1)(f) of the Resource Management Act 1991. They have to be included on a survey plan at the time of issuing s223 certificate and set out in the memorandum.

Examples include:

  • Rights of Way and the services within them that are required by a rule in the District Plan
  • Easements over Council assets in favour of Waikato District Council
  • Private easements such as rights to drain water or sewerage

Easements in a Schedule

These are normally the easements of convenience for the landowners of the new subdivisions allotments, and are not a condition of a subdivision consent. They are not created at the time of issuing the new Certificate of Titles unless all the paperwork is completed. Therefore, even though they are shown on the survey plan, they are not required to be registered on the titles.

Easements that are typically included in a Schedule are electricity, telecommunications and computer media easements.

Why is it important for you and your customers?

It's Council practice to use the Memorandum of Easements to create compulsory easements required for an RMA purpose.

To remove a compulsory easement in the future, the landowner will need to apply to Council to revoke the easement. This requires a deposit of $700 and is charged at cost. The certificate fee is a further $305.  This is a lot of unnecessary work, time and money spent if the land owner wants to remove, for example, an easement for a farm water supply that was not part of a subdivision.

To avoid landowners having to come back to Council to revoke easements that are not for an RMA purpose, we recommend you talk to us early in the consenting process about what easements are required for the subdivision.

Tips for useful plans and drawings

There are a number of checklists and helpful information for consent plans and drawings available on the internet. Having clear and complete plans makes the processing of applications much more efficient as we can quickly and easily find what we need and make the appropriate assessment.

Here's some information you should be familiar with:

Site plan

The site plan must be drawn to a suitable scale; 1:100 is preferred although 1:200 may suffice for rural areas. It is important that the site plan includes a datum point, contours, finished floor level, north point, locations of all existing and proposed buildings and services.  For resource consents, plans must be submitted in A3 or A4.

Floor plan

A floor plan is required for each level of the building; the use of the room and overall floor areas must be denoted. For applications involving building additions, the floor area of existing and new areas shall be clearly shown.

Elevations

A minimum of four elevations is required, one for each aspect of the building. And if day lighting angles or heights exceed limits, clear illustration of these.

 

Other

The plans must be clear, readable and have sufficient information to allow assessment against the performance requirements of the Building Code and the requirements of the District Plan.

 

Building projects that require earthworks and filling (Waikato Section)

If you're undertaking a building project, it's important that you are familiar with the earthworks rules in the Waikato District Plan. These rules manage the effects of earthworks and include restrictions for certain policy areas; rehabilitation timeframes, requirement to retain sediment on site, restriction on removal of material, protection of overland flow paths and specific limits on the area, volume and height of any cut faces.

For earthworks in the Waikato Section that are necessary for building works and building consent has been granted, then the District Plan has provisions that allow for a certain level of dispensation that can enable building works to occur without resource consent for earthworks. The dispensation depends on the zone, steepness of the land and the area of the building works.

If no building consent has been granted then the scope of earthworks are restricted to the earthworks rule for the zone in which they are occurring.

Resource consent is required for any earthworks within the following policy areas, regardless of whether building consent is required:

  1. Flood Risk Area
  2. Land Stability Policy Area
  3. Hauraki Gulf Catchment Area
  4. Huntly East Mine Subsidence area

There are also different rules in the Te Kauwhata area.

Without building consent no material for the building platform can be imported onto site. Once building consent has been granted material can then be imported for the building works. The works are to be carried out in accordance with NZS4431:1989 Code of Practice for earth fill.

If you would like a more thorough explanation of how the earthworks and filling rules for the Waikato Section are interpreted, please click here . If you need to talk it through, please call our Duty Planners on 0800 492 452 or log a request for service.

Common Further Information Requests (FIRs) for Building Consents

A common myth is that you need to have stormwater tanks. You don’t necessarily have to have stormwater tanks. The stormwater design for your build should be based on project specific investigation and any Consent Notice requirements.

Below is a table listing the common FIRs that were issued on building consent applications in the last quarter.

Please make sure you provide this information (if it is relevant to your build) so that we can process your application more quickly.  

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.