What is a District Plan?

A District Plan is a document which sets out the guidance and rules on how you can use and develop your land. 
Every development project needs to be assessed under the Waikato District Plan to determine if resource consent is required.


What is a District Plan Review?

It's like a Plan Change, except it’s more comprehensive. This means that things can be looked at holistically.


Why is the District Plan being reviewed?

Under the Resource Management Act, each provision of a District Plan has to be reviewed every ten years. Much of the review blends the Franklin and Waikato sections into a single District Plan with a consistent approach to development and growth for the first time since the district’s boundary changes in 2010.

Review of the District Plan allows communities to reassess environmental outcomes and priorities, and to redefine their vision for the future of the district.


Who is the review likely to impact on?

If you own land, live, work, play in or visit the Waikato district, then the Proposed Waikato District Plan will affect you.


How does the District Plan affect me?

The district plan affects the way you and your neighbours can use and develop your properties. It identifies a range of activities that are anticipated in the district, where they should occur and regulates these activities through the objectives, policies, rules, explanations and definitions.

The positive outcomes achieved through the district plan generally go unnoticed for most people and it is often not until someone wants to start a new activity or redevelop their property that they become aware of the district plan regulations and the intended outcomes. 

Some common ways the district plan can affect property owners are:

  • How close to the boundary you can build or extend your house, garage or other buildings.
  • How many dwellings you can have on your property.
  • Whether you can subdivide your property.
  • Whether there are any 'special values' relating to your property.
  • Whether you can operate a business from your home.
  • The organisation of festivals and events.


Why are District Plans important?

Everyone is affected by the District Plan because it helps shape how we live, work and play in the Waikato district. Its policies are designed to ensure the environment, and the things people love about living in the Waikato, are protected. 

No-one can use land in a way that contravenes the District Plan – even visitors may be affected by rules relating to rubbish disposal, hazard management, noise, etc.


Who has been consulted with as part of the District Plan Review process?

The District Plan Review has been worked on for the past three years. Comprehensive consultation has taken place, especially with the district’s iwi. In consultation with iwi, Council developed an Iwi Reference Group that provided the forum for the issues and options to be discussed. 

Wider community consultation has been undertaken through open days and the opportunity for comment on the draft district plan.  Key stakeholders with specific interests (such as other local authorities, and New Zealand Transport Agency) have been consulted throughout the plan development.

In addition, where landowners have been directly affected by a proposed provision (such as a heritage building), landowners have been invited to one on one meetings or been contacted by phone.


Why should I be interested in the District Plan?

The District Plan plays a big part in how the Waikato district develops, addressing such diverse issues as character, amenity, heritage and landscape, open spaces, urban growth, subdivision and coastal management.

You may be interested in big picture aspects of the District Plan or just what you can and can’t do on your property – whether it be subdividing, renovating, building a new garage or deck, or starting a home business.


Why can’t we just say no to growth? We don't want more people overcrowding our towns and our district. So why are we letting them come in?

Many people want to live in the district and enjoy all the wonderful things on offer, as we do. Attempting to stop growth could have a number of adverse consequences.

If we don’t provide for anticipated growth in our Proposed District Plan, then we think it's very likely that private

plan change applications will be made in the future, as the demand to live here won’t go away. These are likely to be new housing areas in the countryside, putting more pressure on our roads, services, environment and landscape. Then we'll be on the backfoot. We think it's better to acknowledge anticipated growth and plan for it, and make the most of the benefits that growth can bring.

Further, our District is an engine room of the wider Waikato region. Attempting to stop growth could severely curtail economic growth and employment opportunities, both for people in our district and beyond.

The RMA also requires us to consider the social and economic effects of policies and rules as well as environmental ones. Changes made to the RMA in 2013 require us to explicitly consider the impact of policies and rules on economic growth and employment.

Further, trying to stop growth in the District Plan will also not necessarily stop people coming here. We may then see worsening prevalence of the overcrowding and unaffordable housing that already exists in the district.

However, we would like to hear all perspectives so please make a submission on the Proposed District Plan to formally express your opinion.


Where can I view the district plan?

The best way to view the District Plan is online as it is always up to date. You can also view a hard copy of the District Plan at Waikato District Council head office in Ngaruawahia or at any one of our outer offices and libraries.


What issues does the District Plan deal with?

The District Plan says how Council will manage significant resource management issues. This might include:

  • Building development and earthworks
  • Land use activities such as residential, retail and industrial activities
  • Subdivision of land and associated earthworks
  • Protecting historic heritage and natural areas
  • Managing natural hazards
  • Hazardous substances
  • Contaminated land
  • Noise control
  • Activities on the surface of water in rivers and lakes

It also manages more minor matters such as the minimum distance a garage should be located from a property boundary.


What issues doesn’t the District Plan deal with?

Under the Resource Management Act, the District Plan does not address the following matters:

  • Soil conservation
  • The maintenance and enhancement of the quality of water
  • The maintenance of the quantity of water
  • The maintenance and enhancement of ecosystems in water
  • The taking, using, damming and diversion of water
  • Discharges of contaminants into or onto land, air, or water and discharges of water into water
  • Activities in the coastal marine area (below the high tide mark)
  • Waikato Regional Council considers these matters in its Regional Policy Statement, Regional Coastal Policy Plan and Regional Plan.


How do I know if my planned activity is allowed?

Check the District Plan to see how your proposed activity is classified:   

Permitted - with standards outlining how the activity must be done

Controlled - requires resource consent but will be approved if meets standards

Restricted discretionary - Council has discretion over certain matters, i.e. design, in terms of deciding whether to grant a resource consent

Discretionary - effects will be assessed and resource consent granted or declined on a case by case basis

Non-complying - resource consent granted only under exceptional circumstances

Prohibited – you cannot lodge a resource consent for a prohibited activity


What is a resource consent?

Activities not allowed as of right on your land may be prohibited or require a resource consent (authorisation) to proceed. Resource consents may be notified or non-notified.


If my activity is not permitted in the Plan, is there any chance that I will be allowed to undertake it?

Yes, as long as your activity is not a prohibited activity, you are able to apply for a resource consent. The resource consent process allows an assessment of the effects on the environment to be completed. If the effects of your activity on the environment are no more than minor, and effected neighbours give their consent, a resource consent may be granted, provided conditions are complied with, thus allowing you to undertake your activity.


How do I know which rules from the District Plan apply to me?

A copy of the District Plan is available online or can be viewed at any of the Council offices or libraries. This plan contains 'rules' for each of our Environmental Area's (Rural, Residential etc). To find which Environmental Area your property is in, check out the District Plan planning maps. Once you have found which Environmental Area you fit within, you can view the relevant rules in the appropriate section of the District Plan.


What is the zoning of my property?

The zoning of your property (and any other specific features such as a Landscape Overlay) can be found on hard copies of the Planning Maps or online using the Property Search function.  The zoning of your property (along with any other specific features) governs the land use and subdivision provisions that apply.


What is the difference between Council's two major plans?

The Long Term Plan summarises Council activities and expenditure; and the District Plan manages land use and development.  It is important to note that the Rating department have a different classification system. This means your property may for example be classified as 'residential' in the rates system, but zoned 'commercial' in the Planning Maps. The rates classification is based on services provided and the current use of the property, which governs how rates are charged.


What is a further submission?

After submissions close, Council will prepare a summary of submissions and make this available to the public.

It is important to consider other people’s submissions: they may seek changes to the Proposed Plan that will affect you in a way not mentioned in the original document. When you read the summary of submissions, you may see some that you agree or disagree with.

The following people are able to make further submissions:

  • Anyone representing a relevant aspect of the public interest
  • Anyone that has an interest in the Proposed Plan greater than the interest that the general public has
  • Waikato District Council itself

A further submission is a written statement that allows you to support or oppose other people’s submissions. It also gives you the opportunity to consider how a submission may impact you, and to have your views considered by the hearings panel along with the original submission.


Any further tips?

Check the Definitions section of the District Plan if there are any terms you are unsure of.
A building consent may be required under the Building Act 2004.  Please contact the Building Team for this.

You can also discuss your consenting concerns with our duty planner.