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Reduce your fees? Yes please!

Who doesn’t want to reduce their Council resource consent processing fees? The costs can mount up very quickly. While we fully believe in the benefits of the resource consent process, we also know that costs can easily spiral out of control. In the latest of our “Top Tips for 10 Years” blog series we look at what you can do to reduce your Council resource consent processing fees.

How are costs calculated?

Council resource consent processing fees are generally calculated on an hourly basis. That means you’re charged for the actual time someone spends on your application, including administration staff, planners, engineers and team leaders. The best way to reduce processing fees is to reduce the amount of time these people have to spend on your application.

Get the right team

As the old saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work” and that’s very true for resource consents and land development. You need a team who know what they’re doing, can provide the required information, assessment and plans and in a form that will be acceptable by the Council. Experienced professionals can also confirm the scope of the resource consent; what can and can’t be assessed by the Council. This ensures you don’t pay for assessment and plans you don’t need. Using the right people for your project will reduce your overall costs and provide a better outcome in the long term.

This blog will help you in choosing the right planner for your project.

Do the work upfront

Now you have the right team, your team needs to put in the effort and do the work upfront. Make sure background investigations are thorough, check titles, services, natural hazards and of course District Plan rules and other provisions. Have a clear understanding of what the planning documents seek to achieve, the existing environment and how your goals fit within that. Once you’ve done these preliminary assessments, then begin more detailed design. Carefully design development, having regard to natural features and site constraints.

We recommend that clients have a formal pre- application meeting with the Council. This provides guidance of Council’s initial opinion on a project and the information they are expecting with the resource consent application. This helps avoid any surprises later in the process.

Get a good application together

The largest amount of Council staff time spent on your application will be from the Council specialist staff who are assessing your application. Making sure your application addresses all the relevant issues, effects, objectives and policies is your best way of reducing Council processing fees. There is no benefit in lodging a sub- standard application and waiting to see what Council says. Missing information out will result in more requests for information from the Council, and more likely backwards and forwards communications. The time for this quickly adds up, and your costs will significantly increase.

On the flip side, if you lodge a good resource consent application that is thorough and covers the issues Council is assessing and looking for, Council staff can adopt the assessment in your application. This saves considerable Council processing time and will save you a lot of money. It’s a good incentive to get the application right!

In addition to the assessment in it, also think of the way the application is put together. Is the AEE easy to navigate (you’d be amazed at the number of people who don’t use contents pages, page numbering, headings - it wastes everyone’s time trying to find things), are supporting documents such as the certificate of title, plans and engineering reports in separate attachments?

Take a look at our blog on section 88 [link] to find out more about what you should include in your application package.


Good communication not only builds positive relationships, it saves time and with resource consents time means money. If the Council asks for information, has questions or concerns, communicate with them openly and honestly. If you think the question is outside the scope of what’s being applied for you can have that conversation, but first listen and understand the Council’s concerns. There may be a quick win that doesn’t affect your project but makes a big difference for the Council team.

So much communication is digital these days but there’s still a lot to be said for phone or face to face conversation in real time. Having an open and honest conversation with someone avoids miscommunication, allows you to refine concerns and identify solutions together. Often its faster and easier to resolve issues when you’re discussing them this way. Reducing the backwards and forwards reduces everyone’s time and expense.

Want to reduce your fees?

The Planning Plus team are resource consent specialists; we both process applications for Councils and lodge applications for private clients. We know the process inside out. If you’re sick of the complexity of the resource consent process and want to stick to what you love best, give us a call. Resource consents are what we do; let us take the stress out of the process for you. Contact us on or 427 9966. We look forward to hearing from you!


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. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

Hannah Thomson

is Director of Planning Plus™ and has over 20 years of resource management experience working in both local government and the private sector. This includes five years at Rodney District Council in roles including Senior Planner and Team Leader. 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.

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