Growing Places e-newsletter

Welcome to the sixth 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:

Changes you need to know about:

Helpful tips and reminders:

Staff update

Building Consents team:

Congratulations to Rob Koppers, who has been appointed Senior Building Inspector. This is a new role, as a result of the growth of the inspection team. Rob will work closely with David Johnstone, Team Leader Building Inspectors, to manage the team of inspectors.

Sarah Kraayvanger has returned from maternity leave to continue her role as a Building Review Officer reviewing building consents.


Resource Consents team:

Welcome to Inderpaul Randhawa, who has joined us as a Senior Land Development Engineer and Melissa Muir, who will be processing LIMs. Melissa has replaced Shelly Crosby.

We’ve also got some additional fixed-term resource in the consent admin team to help with workload – welcome Naomi Hansen.

We’ve got four new planners on board. Keryn Bond has returned after a number of years of looking after her young family. Milan Covic has joined as a recent planning graduate and Sarah Wilson has moved from our Customer Delivery team to better utilise her qualifications. We’ve also got Katrina Andrews, a Waikato planning graduate, joining us mid-October.

Victoria Majoor is now on parental leave and Yuto Tsuchiya has stepped in to cover her role as Intermediate Planner. Jonno Ward, a recent import from across the ditch, is covering Yuto’s role. We’ve also managed to get some extra resource to help in the 223/224 space. We welcome Jodi Bell-Wymer into this new role as Consents Planner (Technical). Jonno and Jodi are jointly responsible for overseeing post-subdivision approvals, property numbering and maintaining our Land Hazard Register.

Staff Profile: Meet our Consents Team Leader Karleen Kingsford

Karleen Thomson is our Consents Team Leader.

Karleen started working with Council in 2010 as a Senior Planner and moved into the role of Consents Team Leader for the west of the district in 2016. The west area covers some of our high-growth areas including Tuakau, Pokeno, Te Kowhai, Whatawhata and Raglan as well as the Port Waikato/Onewhero-Te Akau ward. The planners in Karleen’s team are split between our Ngaruawahia office and our Tuakau office. A key part of Karleen’s role is to support the consent planners with the processing of resource consents. She also gets involved with notified consents and complex customer complaints. Karleen really enjoys the people side of the role and working with her team of seven.

Prior to working at Waikato District Council, Karleen has worked at Hamilton City Council and Waipa District Council and was a planner at NZTA for a number of years.  

Outside of work, Karleen enjoying spends time with her four children and is just about to head off on holiday to Melbourne to do some much deserved shopping!

Processing statistics: Slow quarter but numbers still high

Although we had a spike of resource consent applications received in July 2017 (124; the highest in a number of years), we’ve seen slightly lower numbers this quarter compared with the same months last year. In regards to building consents received, for 6 months in a row now we’ve seen lower application numbers when compared with the same months last year. This quarter, we’ve received on average 50 building consent applications a month for new dwellings.

 

Tuakau

What's happening: Raglan – a town with plenty of soul

There’s no denying that Raglan is one cool little town, with beautiful surf beaches, great shops and a relaxed atmosphere.

It’s a thriving hub of fashion, arts and crafts, jewellery, gift shops and fantastic cafes. A large number of talented and creative artists have made Raglan their home. You can discover original art, pottery, weaving, stone carving, jewellery and photography.

And there is plenty to do here, with lots of great activities – everything from surfing, kite boarding, kayaking and fishing to tramping and horse-trekking.

Raglan is home to around 3500 people but it’s also a popular destination for weekend visitors and holiday-goers. The population grows by 300 to 400 per cent during summer.

The town has grown over the years, as people have realised that they can live on the coast and work nearby.

As part of the growth there’s a new development on the Rangitahi peninsula. The development allows for 500 more residential dwellings and will create its own infrastructure including new roading and the new bridge, currently under construction.

This development will be done in stages over the next 10 to 15 years. It will feature architecture that respects the natural surroundings – anything from 1-2 bedroom houses to larger family homes – and all the houses will be near the waters’ edge.

According to its website (rangitahi.co.nz) and Facebook page, there are currently only 3 sections left in the first stage and 43% of the sales to date have been to existing Raglan families.

The technical bits:

  • The land was rezoned to Rangitahi Living Zone in 2015 following the decision of Independent Hearing Commissioners on Private Plan Change 12.
  • The Plan Change decision introduced the Rangitahi Structure Plan and new objectives, policies and rules into the Waikato District Plan. There are seven physically discrete but connected Precincts to be developed. The Rangitahi Structure Plan comprises a number of separate plans, including a land use plan and several Neighbourhood Outcome Plans (one for each Precincts A to G). 
  • Resource Consent was granted in March 2017 to subdivide and develop Precinct A in the Structure Plan to provide 89 single dwelling lots, 3 mixed use lots, 1 comprehensive residential development lot, 1 commercial lot, 1 recreation reserve and 2 drainage reserves, local integrated walkways and cycle ways, several shared access lots and roads to vest.
  • A related project is the upgrade of Opotoru Road inclusive of the existing bridge/causeway. There was an existing resource consent for this work in place prior to the Private Plan Change, which was amended by decisions of the Independent Commissioners for the Plan Change in 2015, to ensure alignment.   

 

Process focus: More details about the Resource Management Act changes

Changes to information required on subdivision applications – Natural Hazards

One of the big changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) is how natural hazards are assessed for subdivisions. If your site is subject to natural hazards you will now be required to provide a risk assessment as part of your geotechnical report submitted with your subdivision application to address the requirements of section 106 of the RMA. 

Waikato District Council have sought some guidance from the Ministry for the Environment who have provided the following information to assist you with understanding what is required to be submitted: 

When you are engaging your geotechnical engineer please make sure that you are providing them with this information and that they are undertaking a risk assessment of the natural hazards identified in accordance with ISO31000:2009. We are aware that the above information provided by MfE is tailored more towards plan making than subdivision consents however the principles are the same for both.

Transition period over the next few months

If you are lodging subdivision applications that are affected by natural hazards and do not provide a risk assessment to address new section 106 of the RMA, we will initially be working closely with you and your geotechnical engineer through a section 92 request to obtain this information. In the new year we will be asking to see this information come in at section 88 stage and your application may be returned to you if you do not provide the required risk assessment in your geotechnical report.

Permitted Boundary Activities

From 18 October 2017 you may be able to apply to Council for a Permitted Boundary Activity if you meet certain criteria set down by the RMA. Our analysis of past consents shows that on average we processed only about 50 applications a year that would qualify for this new process. This is because most applications have another type of infringement other than a boundary rule - for example, earthworks or site coverage which do not meet the definition of boundary rule.

In order to qualify for a Permitted Boundary Activity you will need to demonstrate that you have one or more infringement/s of only boundary rules and you have the written approval of the neighbour/s of the infringed boundary/boundaries. To assist you with determining whether the rules you infringe are in fact ‘boundary rules’ as defined by the RMA, we have come up with a list of our District Plan rules that meet the definition. Please see the Interpretation Notes on Boundary Activities for the Waikato Section of the District Plan and for the Franklin Section of the District Plan.

If you do qualify for a Permitted Boundary Activity you can apply by filling out the Permitted Boundary Application form along with the specific PBA written persons approval form and submitting it as described on the application form.

We will have 10 working days to confirm you are either a Permitted Boundary Activity or you are not (this could be either because you haven’t supplied the correct information, or you do not quality). There is no ability for us to stop the clock and request further information from you.

The Ministry for the Environment has provided a flow chart and some technical guidance to help demonstrate how the Permitted Boundary Activities work. These documents are designed for use by Councils but will be useful to help you understand the process.

Due to the new streamlined process the fee for Boundary Encroachments with neighbours written approval has been reduced from $700 currently listed in the schedule of fees to $350. This fee covers all costs for processing your PBA and you will not be charged additional costs. However if your application is returned and you decide to resubmit a new application, you may be required to pay a new fee.

If you are worried as to whether you have the right information for lodging your PBA please check with the Duty Planner.  

 

Fast Track Resource Consent Applications

You may have heard that there will be a new fast track process for resource consents. The RMA changes set down that this process is only for controlled activity district land use consents. If your activity is a controlled activity and you provide an electronic address for service, you will qualify for a fast track process and your application will be processed in a maximum of 10 working days instead of 20 days. Our analysis of past consents shows that we processed only 20 controlled activity land use consents in the past year. Some examples of controlled activities include Resites and Dwellings in the Coastal Zone of the Waikato Section of the plan. 

Our land use application form have been updated to include a section that applies to fast track applications. Please see the Interpretation Note on fast track applications and what rules in our District Plan will commonly trigger a fast track process.

At the moment fast track applications have a lodgement fee of $1200 as a minor land use consent and any additional costs will be recovered. We are reviewing this for the new fees and charges schedule that will have effect from 1 July 2018. 

The Ministry for the Environment has provided a flow chart to help demonstrate how the fast track applications work.

 

Changes to Notification Assessment

How we assess if an application needs to be notified will change significantly from 18 October 2017. There are certain types of applications that will be excluded from public notification and, in some cases, limited notification. We have developed some Council-specific interpretations around these changes, in particular, what activities and zones in our District Plan meet the new definition under the RMA for ‘Residential Activities’ - click here to see the interpretation note. If you have a boundary activity that you cannot obtain neighbours approval for and therefore does not quality as a Permitted Boundary Activity, you can still apply for a resource consent where public notification is excluded (unless special circumstances apply) and only specific neighbours can be considered affected.

The Ministry for the Environment has provided a flow chart and some technical guidance to help demonstrate how the Permitted Boundary Activities work. These documents are designed for use by Councils but will be useful to help you understand the process.

Other resource consent changes to note

An electronic age

Electronic addresses for service (email address) are now the default. Please ensure you write your email address really clearly on the forms or, better still, fill them out as an editable PDF. We have been issuing resource consent decisions and correspondence electronically for a while now, so nothing really changes in our processes here.

Changes to appeal rights

New changes to the Act include changes to appeal rights under section 120. There is no right of appeal to the whole or any part of a decision for the following activities:

  1. A boundary activity unless the boundary activity is a non-complying activity:
  2. A subdivision unless the subdivision is a non-complying activity:
  3. A residential activity as defined in section 95A(6), unless the residential activity is a non-complying activity.

Changes to objections

New changes to the Act include changes to objection rights under section 357AB, which allows an applicant who has a right of objection under section 357A(1)(f) or (g) to request that the objection be considered by an independent hearings commissioner, at the cost of the applicant. Although we endeavour to run a process where objections are not necessary, there are times when applicants choose to lodge objections under section 357. In order to address the above changes we have submitted that a new fee for objections of $2500 be adopted through the Fees and Charges schedule beginning from 1 July 2018. This fee will only be payable when requesting an independent commissioner to hear the objection. 

Exemptions for Marginal/Temporary Rule infringements

You may have heard there is a new process where Councils may exempt activities from needing a resource consent for ‘marginal or temporary’ rule breaches. This process is entirely over to the Council’s discretion. For now, due to the number of changes required by the 18 October, we are not exercising our discretion to use these. During October and November we will be looking to developing a process around issuing of exemptions. We will update you further in the next Growing Places.

How to get the relevant forms

All relevant application forms have been uploaded to our website for your use on resource consents lodged on or after 18 October. Check them out here.

Changes for you to be aware of

Changes to be aware of

District Plan review update – a Draft District Plan

If you’ve signed up for our District Plan Review e-newsletter you will have seen the update on 13 September which indicated that our Policy team has nearly completed a new draft District Plan and they want to share it with you before they formally notify it next year. The aim is to get this out later this year.

What does a draft district plan mean in terms of consent applications?

Nothing. The draft plan is being shared as part of the public consultation outside of the RMA Schedule 1 plan making process. The draft district plan has no impact on resource consents until it is formally notified.

To keep up to date on the District Plan Review, subscribe to the e-newsletter.

Do you use our Duty Planner Service?

You can now contact the Duty Planner by using our new online form. There’s also some new information on the website about the services provided by the Duty Planner.  

Don’t forget you can now submit your building consent electronically

There are many benefits to submitting your building consent electronically.

  • A reduction in printing, paper, photocopying, postage or having to travel into one of our offices.
  • Paper applications take time to digitise and get into the system. It takes us less time to prepare digital files for the technical officers.
  • The scale of digital files is more accurate. The printing and scanning process means that the scale shown on the plan isn’t accurate, which sometimes results in a request for further information.

We understand that some of our customers may not know how to submit their consent electronically or may be struggling with the changes. If you need some help or guidance, please contact us. You can come to see us or we can come and visit you. We also know that some of our customers don’t have the technology to submit their consent electronically. If this is you, please let us know. We can find a solution that works for you.

Things to be aware of:

  • Please ensure any other applications aren’t ‘hidden’ in supporting information. Now that we are accepting digital building consent applications, we’ve had several instances where customers have put other applications in as supporting documents to the building consent. These weren’t identified until the technical processing officer reviewed the application and by then we had lost valuable processing time for those other applications. If your project requires separate permits from council (a Resource Consent, a Vehicle Entranceway, a Water Connection etc) please tell us this when you drop in your applications or in your covering email.
  • Please also ensure that each application has its own discrete package of documents. For example, if a project requires a Building Consent and Land Use Consent, please provide the building consent application form and documents on the applicant checklist for building consent; in a separate set of documents provide the land use consent applicant form and checklist for Land Use Consent (Section B of application form). This will mean, for example, providing a copy of the site plan with each application.
  • A friendly reminder to include only the requested information. For example, where the information requested applies to two plans only, please do not send the full set back in. It takes us longer to process applications when we receive the full documents.
  • All amendments to plans must identify the changes from the original (cloud annotation) and the version of the relevant plan should be updated.
  • All FIR responses require a cover letter so we understand what information has been supplied.
  • Where possible, please send all information at the same time. If 10 pieces of information are requested but only two things are supplied at a time, without a letter, it is much more difficult to process.
  • Please complete the FIR table/checklist. This is on the second page of the FIR letter we send you. Please return this with each piece of information you send in (even if you have to ‘drip feed’ it).

Horotiu

Helpful tips and reminders

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.

Swimming pool fencing

It’s coming up to that time of year where pools will be starting to be cleaned in time for swimming in the warmer weather. Just a reminder that it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the fencing is compliant.

As a result of legislative changes, all pools will need to be inspected every three years to ensure they continue to meet the requirements of the Building Act 2004.

If you own a pool or spa pool, you’ll receive a letter from Council advising you of your responsibilities and when your inspection will be scheduled. Please feel free to chat to us if you have any questions or concerns by phoning 0800-492-452. There is a Duty Inspector available every morning from 8am to 10am.

For further information and to ensure your pool fencing is compliant please refer to MBIE website.

BRANZ statistics

Here are some interesting statistics from BRANZ that complement our Common Further Information Requests section below. BRANZ undertook a recent construction documentation survey of 53 sets of drawings for building consent and found:

  • 40% were lacking details
  • 15% lacked clarity and were not job specific
  • 30% referred to other documents for details
  • 50% had inconsistent scales
  • 59% did not clearly identify materials and finishes.

MBIE state that, as a minimum, all drawings submitted for building consent should contain:

  • a drawing number and title
  • the designer’s and owner’s name and the job address
  • scale
  • version control dating.

MBIE/MfE Urban Development Capacity Dashboard

A new Urban Development Capacity Dashboard and accompanying guide are provided to help ‘high growth’ and ‘medium growth’ councils give effect to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity. Although developed for councils, the dashboard includes information that will be of interest to some of you. To see the Dashboard click here and choose from the Map or Time-Series options above the picture.

 

Common Further Information Requests (FIRs) for Building Consents - July-October 2017

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 receive consent quicker and easier.

FIR table October 2017

Common reasons CCC are refused - July-October 2017

  1. Lack of the required documentation e.g. no application for CCC, Producer Statements, Records of Work, Electrical & Gas certificates of compliance, as laid drainage plan, etc.
  2. The work is not in accordance with the consented drawings i.e. changes made without advising Council and the appropriate amendments being approved.
  3. The work is not complete i.e. impervious surfaces not finished, water not connected so fittings and water temperature can’t be checked, smoke alarms not in place, insulation displaced in the ceiling space etc.

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