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Choosing a Planner- what should I look for?

So, you’ve decided to engage a Planner to help you with your resource consent application. There are a lot of consultancies and even more Planners- with so many options how do you choose? As with engaging any professional, it pays to do your homework and make sure you’re getting a good fit between what you want and need and what you want to pay.

Are all Planners created equal?

Unfortunately, Planning is an unregulated industry, meaning anyone can say that they’re a Planner irrespective of their qualifications or experience. This means that someone can say they’ll put together your resource consent for you, but they may not actually know what they’re doing. So the easy answer is definitely no, not all Planners are the same.


Planning is a profession and Planners have specific university training and related qualifications. Make sure your Planner is qualified, and that this information is easy to get. Often people will include this on their “About Us” pages on their website. Look also for membership of the NZ Planning Institute, where levels of skill and knowledge are needed to obtain membership.


What’s their experience in resource consents? How many years have they been doing this for, where and on what type of projects? You could find this out easily from the business website, which often contains basic information on a person’s experience and project examples. You need someone who knows the process inside out and has been dealing with it for a long time. There’s no point in engaging someone to help you, if they actually can’t.

Professional Development

Planning is a profession where best practise and legislation is often changing. Its important Planners undertake regular professional development to stay on top of these, or they can quickly fall behind. This has flow on effects of not giving their clients the most accurate and innovative advice. Ask about professional development.

Planners who are members of the NZ Planning Institute are also required to undertake professional development yearly, and this is monitored. By choosing a Planner who is a member, you can have greater assurances regarding their competency. Members are also required to agree to the Code of Ethics, providing more comfort to potential clients.

Track Record

Nothing tells you about service better than someone who has used the service before. How has that Planner or consultancy performed before? Take a look at testimonials on their website or social media, and their social media profiles. Ask friends and family for recommendations and take a look at the Planners past projects. A quick google search can tell you a lot!

Insurances, Terms and Conditions

Planning consultancies should be operating in accordance with specific agreements, terms and conditions. This gives all parties surety on what will happen, including in the event of a dispute.

Its also important to confirm what the Planners professional indemnity insurance is. Often this is noted in the terms agreement. These are important for a client and need to be checked at the start of the process; it’s too late once the work is done, and you then find you have issues.


For many people the first thing they look at is price, but there are a lot of other factors that should be given just as much weight in your decision. The old saying “pay peanuts and get monkeys” comes to mind! While not every project needs an application and AEE with all the “bells and whistles”, there are basics that every application needs to include and a level of skill that your consultant needs. Make sure you have confidence in your consultants’ abilities to actually help you, and that the price is fair.

Also keep in mind that if your application is poor, the Council will often need to take more time processing the application and this is an extra cost. This can be a “hidden” cost, because you aren’t aware of it at the start.

Want to talk?

If you have a project in mind and want to see if Planning Plus is a good fit for you, give our team a call. We are a highly experienced and qualified team of professional planners, who are friendly and approachable. Call us today to learn more, 427 9966.

Hannah Thomson is a Director of Planning Plus and has over 17 years of resource management experience working in both local government and the private sector. Hannah has a wide range of experience including commercial, rural, residential and coastal development and subdivision on small to large scales and appearances at both Council and Environment Court as an expert witness for mediation and hearings. Hannah has assisted Councils with policy development and has also assisted private individuals with submissions to Council.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s.

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