Resource Consents

Do you need a resource consent?

You need to apply for a resource consent if you want to build on or use your land in a way that doesn’t comply with the rules and standard of our District Plan.

Here are a few examples:

  • You plan to build a garage which will exceed permitted site coverage on your property
  • You plan to remove or deposit a large amount of soil
  • You plan to demolish a building
  • You plan to open up a commercial business (e.g. an office) in the residential area of Invercargill
  • You plan to subdivide your land
  • You plan to remove a tree within a protected area in Otatara
  • You plan to erect a sign which is larger than the permitted size within the Zone, or advertises something which is not occurring on the property.

The District Plan classifies different kinds of activities

  • Controlled activities – we always grant resource consent, but we can impose conditions on the consent to minimise environmental effects.
  • Restricted discretionary activities – we can grant or decline consent, and impose conditions that relate only to the matters listed in the District Plan
  • Discretionary activities – we can grant or decline consent, and impose conditions relating to anything which might have an environmental effect.
  • Non-complying activities – we can only grant consent if the adverse environmental effects are minor, or if the application meets the District Plan’s objectives and policies. We can impose conditions relating to anything which might have an environmental effect.

How do you know if you need a resource consent?

You need to use the maps and the objectives, policies and rules in our District Plan to find out.   It can be complicated so phone or email us – we are happy to help.

If you are planning to subdivide your land, contact a surveyor.  If you plan to apply for a major project, it is best to consult with a professional, who knows our District Plan and who will apply on your behalf.

What is a land use resource consent?

Getting a land use resource consent from the City Council gives you approval to use a ‘resource’ (i.e. land or buildings).  You will need one if you are planning to carry out an activity on a site that doesn’t comply with the rules and standards of our District Plan.  Resource consents are different from building consents.

The resource consent process requires you to think about the effects of your project on the environment and on the community, and to reduce any environmental effects of the activity.

A resource consent relates to a specific property and covers:

  • New buildings and additions and alterations to buildings where a District Plan rule is breached
  • Activities in an area where they are not permitted as of right (e.g. building a new pre-school in the residential zone)
  • A change in activities on a property (e.g. converting a dwelling to a shop in the residential zone)
  • Land modification (e.g. earthworks)

We have 20 working days to process a land use resource consent application, but we can ‘stop the clock’ if we need to get more information from you.

Lodging an application

If you want to electronically lodge an application for a land use consent you first need to become a registered user

Find out about fees and charges here.

What is a subdivision resource consent?

A subdivision resource consent is required from us when you want to create or alter legal property boundaries, often resulting in a further, smaller lot or lots.  There are rules in our District Plan about minimum lot sizes in the different zones of Invercargill.

Subdivision consents apply to activities such as:

  • Creating a new freehold title (new Lots)
  • Adjusting a boundary, where the number of Lots will not increase, but the areas of the Lots will change
  • Creating a cross-lease, which is where a number of people own an undivided share in the ownership of a piece of land, and the homes they build on the land are leased from other land owners.
  • Creating a unit title development, where the owners own a defined part of a building such as an apartment building, and share ownership in common areas such as lifts, lobbies and driveways

We have 20 working days to process an application for a subdivision resource consent, but we can ‘stop the clock’ if we need to get some more information about the proposal.

Subdivision resource consents are almost always applied for on your behalf by a surveyor.  They will know the rules in our District Plan, and will complete an assessment of environmental effects for you.

Once resource consent has been granted, and you have met the conditions imposed on the consent, your surveyor will apply for S223 and S224 certificates.  A S223 certificate approves the survey plan submitted with your application.  A S224 certificate confirms that all of the conditions have been met.  Your subdivision resource consent can then be completed and separate titles issued.

Find out about fees and charges here.

What is a deemed permitted boundary activity?

Recent changes to the Resource Management Act mean that our Planners can process consents for deemed permitted boundary activities.

A deemed permitted boundary activity is a much simpler process than a resource consent. You can apply for a deemed permitted boundary activity consent if:

  • Resource consent would be required because you don’t meet one or more of the boundary rules of our District Plan
  • You do meet all of the other rules
  • None of the boundaries you infringe on is a public (usually a street) boundary.

We have ten working days to process a deemed permitted boundary activity application and provide you with a written notice.

Lodging an application

If you want to electronically lodge an application for a deemed permitted boundary activity you first need to become a registered user

Deemed permitted boundary activity application form

Find out about fees and charges here.

What information do we require for a Deemed Permitted Boundary Activity?

You will need to provide the following information with your application for a Deemed Permitted Boundary Activity:

  • A detailed description of the activity. Remember that we will need to be satisfied that your activity meets all of the other rules in the District Plan, apart from the boundary incursion.
  • Detailed plans, including a scaled site plan which shows the distance of the structure to the boundary which will be infringed, and scaled elevation drawings showing the height of the structure in relation to the infringed boundary.
  • Written approval from the owner of the neighbouring property where the infringement occurs, including plans signed by the neighbour. Affected Persons Written Approval Form

What happens when you apply for a resource consent?

When we receive your resource consent application, we check it to make sure that you have given us all of the information that we need.  If it isn’t complete, we will either:

  • Return your application to you within five working days, and explain to you why.
  • Place your application on hold to ask for more information about your proposal. If we do this, you must either provide the information, or let us know within 15 working days whether or not you are going to provide it.

Once we are happy that all of the information has been supplied with your application, we will start processing it. This involves:

  • Working out what the fixed initial deposit will be for your application – this must be paid before we can continue to process the application. We will send you an invoice, usually by email, and explain the ways that you can pay.
  • Preparing a report on notification – this will recommend whether your application can be non-notified or notified in some way. We ask the following questions during this process:
    • What sort of resource consent have you applied for?
    • Are the effects of your activity minor, or are they more than minor?
    • Have you provided the written approval of all affected parties?
    • What does the District Plan say about notification?

You can also ask us to notify an application.

Here are the following options for notification:

  • Non-notified – the effects are minor, and written approval has been obtained from all affected parties
  • Limited notified – We write to the affected parties that you haven’t provided written approval for, and ask if they want to make a submission on your application. They have 20 working days to make one.
  • Fully notified – We consider that the effects of your proposal on the environment are serious enough that members of the wider public need to be able to make submissions.

What is an assessment of environmental effects?

Providing a detailed Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) with your application for resource consent is really important.  Any effects, whether positive or negative, long or short term, need to be identified and considered.

It is highly unlikely that your proposed activity has no adverse effects.   If our District Plan requires a resource consent for your activity, then we have anticipated that there are some.

Preparing an AEE helps you to identify the effects of your activity, and to put measures in place to reduce them.  Council Planners will use it as the basis for a decision on whether to notify or grant an application, and what conditions to impose on it.

You should include in your AEE:

  • A detailed description of your proposed activity.
  • An assessment of the actual and potential effects on the environment.
  • If the effects are likely to be significant, what alternatives you could take to avoid, remedy or mitigate them.
  • A list of persons affected by the proposal, what consultation you have undertaken, and how you have responded to the person consulted.

If your application is likely to be complex, it is good to ask for professional help. Examples of a complex application might be:

  • There are a number of issues that need to be considered
  • There is something unusual about the site
  • Resource consents are required from more than one authority (e.g. the City Council and Environment Southland)
  • Technical information needs to be obtained and interpreted.

Without a complete AEE we might:

  • Return your application to you as incomplete
  • Put your application ‘on hold’ while we ask you for further information so that we can understand what you want to do. You must then provide the information, or write to us agreeing or refusing to supply the information, within 15 days
  • Notify your application or require the written approval of more parties, because we are unable to confirm if the effects of your activity are minor, and if people will be affected by it.

Section 88 and the Fourth Schedule of the Resource Management Act sets out the requirements for an AEE.

Do you need to consult with anyone?

Affected parties are people or organisations who might be affected by, or have a special interest in, your project.  They can be the owners and occupiers of a neighbouring property (e.g. when you want to build a garage which shades their property) or organisations (e.g. NZ Transport Agency when your site borders a state highway).

If you are not sure who the affected parties to your proposal are, get in touch with us and we will help.  Note that if further issues arise as we process your application, we may also identify other affected parties.

Affected Persons Written Approval form

Affected party approval that you provide should include their signature on:

  • A signed copy of your application
  • The Assessment of Environmental Effects
  • Any plans (e.g. site plans, elevations)

Providing the written approval of all affected parties means that:

  • The Council can be confident that you have told affected parties about your plans, answered their questions, and helped them to understand your project
  • Your application can be processed more quickly
  • You save delays and hassles later on.
  • We are more likely to grant resource consent without notifying the application.

How do we make a decision on your resource consent application?

The Resource Management Act requires us to consider the following matters:

  • Any actual or potential effects on the environment
  • National and regional policy statements
  • The provisions of the Invercargill City District Plan
  • Any other matters that we think are relevant and necessary to decide on the application.
  • The purpose and principles of Part 2 of the Resource Management Act

We can’t:

  • Consider the effects on anyone who has provided written approval for your application
  • Grant consent for a prohibited activity
  • Consider trade competition
  • Grant consent if your application should have been publicly notified, but was not.
  • Grant a subdivision resource consent when access is not available to one or more of the Lots.

When your application arrives at the Council, it is allocated to a Resource Management Officer (or sometimes to a consultant) to process.  The Officer will write a report, including recommendations on whether or not to notify the application, whether consent should be granted, and what conditions should be imposed on it.

If your application is being processed in a non notified manner, the decision is made by the Director of Environmental and Planning Services or by another senior staff member acting under authority delegated by the Council.  If it follows a notified path, it is likely that a Hearing will be held.  The decision to grant or refuse consent is then made by a Hearings Panel (usually made up of City Councillors who have received special training to do this) or by a Commissioner.

How long will it take to process your application?

Non-notified applications

The Resource Management Act requires us to issue our decision to you within 20 working days of receiving your application, providing we have all of the information that we need.

Limited and fully notified applications

The processing times for applications which are notified in some form may take three months or more, especially if we receive submissions and a Hearing is required.

Deemed permitted boundary activity applications

We will issue a certificate within 10 working days of receiving the application.

When approval could be delayed

  • We have asked you for more information, and can ‘stop the clock’ until we receive it. (We can do this only once).
  • You need other consents (e.g. from Environment Southland) to carry out your activity
  • Your proposal is significant and complex.
  • You don’t agree with the conditions we have placed on your resource consent, and so we have to work through this process.

In some circumstances we are able to extend the time for processing your resource consent, but we will always contact you to get your agreement first.

What happens once you have been granted a resource consent?

We will send you your resource consent, either by email or mail.  You need to check:

  • That you understand the conditions attached to the consent.
  • Whether the activity that we have granted your resource consent for has an expiry date. If you need to extend the period within which to give effect to it, you need to let us know at least six months before the consent expires.
  • That you know the timeframe for giving effect to (starting) your activity. The consent will lapse if you don’t start it within the date stated on the consent– usually five years from the date the consent was granted.

Planning officers will monitor the resource consent to make sure that you are complying with its conditions.  If you don’t, you may issued with an abatement notice or take other courses of action to ensure compliance.

Can you change your resource consent?

You can apply to change or cancel a condition on your resource consent after it has been issued to you.   You will need to explain to us what change you want, and why.

We may require a new Assessment of Environmental Effects from you so that we know what effects the change of the conditions might have, and how you plan to deal with them.

An application for a change of conditions goes through much the same process as an original resource consent, and we will charge a fee.  Check the fees and charges form for more information.

Can you transfer or cancel your resource consent?

A resource consent is always attached to the land, and not the land owner.  This means that if you sell your property, the resource consent continues on with the new owner, along with responsibilities to meet its conditions.

If the activity for which your consent was granted has ceased, and you no longer need resource consent, you can surrender it by writing to us.  If you decide to do this, you will still need to meet any continuing conditions, and you must complete any work already started unless we allow otherwise.

What if you are unhappy with a resource consent decision?

If you are unhappy about our decision on your resource consent application, you can lodge a formal appeal with the Environment Court.

This must be done within 15 days of the date of the decision.

Here are the Environment Court’s prescribed forms

You will need to supply us, as well as everyone who made a submission on the resource consent, a copy of your appeal.  This can be delivered by hand, posted or emailed.

What happens if you carry on your project without a resource consent?

If your project needs a resource consent and you start it or carry on without one, or if you don’t comply with the conditions of your resource consent, you are committing an offence under the Resource Management Act, and there are penalties which we are able to enforce under the Act.

They include:

  • Issuing you with an abatement notice, which is awarning that you are not meeting the provisions of the Resource Management Act. The abatement notice may ask you to stop you from an action, require that you cease an action already being undertaken, or require you to undertake an action.  We must give you at least seven days to comply with the requirements of the abatement notice.
  • Issuing you with an infringement notice, which is a fine imposed when you have committed an offence under the Resource Management Act.
  • Asking the Environment Court to issue you with an enforcement order if the offence is very serious.

When do you need a consent from the regional council (Environment Southland)

Sometimes you require a discharge to land, water or air consent from Environment Southland, in addition to your land use resource consent.

You will need a consent from Environment Southland if you wish to:

  • Dam, divert, take and/or use water
  • Undertake activities in the coastal marine area
  • Undertake activities in/over/near water bodies
  • Discharge contaminants to air, land or water

For example, you might plan to open a quarry to remove shingle.

City Council Planners would consider the land use effects of dust, noise etc, on the environment, while Environment Southland Planners would consider the effect that the activity had on the water table.   If you think that you might also need a discharge consent from Environment Southland go to the Environment Southland website.

Resource Consents Hearings

This Resource Consent Hearings Procedures brochure describes Invercargill City Council’s standard procedures for Resource Consent Hearings.

Here’s the link: planning-hearing-procedures