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Part 2 - Lifecycle of a Resource Consent: Initial investigations - Pre-application

Step 2: Pre-application process

This is the second part in our blog series on Lifecycle of a Resource Consent . We aren’t going to explain the legal process of getting a resource consent, but what is actually involved for you as a “developer”, or someone wanting to do something.

If you missed the first edition on the initial investigations, you can read it here. Now we are going to move onto the pre-application portion.

Step 2: Pre-application meeting

As we learnt in the first part of this blog series, when dealing with resource consents, doing early ground work always pays off in the long run.

These days it is common for most Councils to offer a service called a ‘pre-application meeting.’ This is where you can meet with Council officers and talk through your proposal, and discuss any specific issues or information the Council may require for your application.

While there is usually a small fee for using this service, it really is worth it. The benefits to having this meeting are:

  • determining exactly what resource consents are required

  • discussing if Council expects you to get written approval from certain people or groups

  • gaining a general understanding of the process involved

  • determining if other specialist assessments are required

  • identifying where you can find information you might need

  • getting a handle on the main costs involved.

You also get the benefit of meeting Council staff who are likely to be involved in processing your application. Developing a constructive working relationship with them in the early stages can assist in helping the process run smoothly. The Council gains an early insight into ‘where you are coming from’ with your proposal and what your objectives are.

Planners and preapplication meetings

We would recommend that you have your Planner attend the pre-application meeting with you. This will ensure you get the most out of the time and money you spend on this part of the process.

Why is this? Your Planner can:

  • identify areas of your application that might be tricky

  • put questions to Council about the tricky areas and suggest possibilities for how to deal with Council concerns

  • help coordinate the project and provide early advice to help avoid expensive re-designs

  • put planning arguments to Council on issues that arise

  • help to ensure that Council’s approach and responses to your proposal are reasonable and in accordance with the rules that apply


The Resource Management Act does not include any formal duty to consult. But depending on your resource consent application, consultation with neighbours or other groups is a worthwhile exercise to engage in. Especially in the early stages of preparing your application, so you can see if there is going to be any major resistance. As well as consulting your neighbours, you may choose include NZTA, Heritage New Zealand and local Iwi groups.

Why consultation?

Early consultation on your project with your neighbour may mean that if down the track Council formally identifies that a neighbour is affected and requires their written approval, you have already had that ‘initial contact’. You will have shown the neighbour you have taken into account how your project may impact on them. This ‘initial contact’ may serve as the foundation work for being able to actually obtain written approval from them.

When you are conducting your early consultation, it is best to be proactive. If your neighbours, or the groups you consulted express no concern and have full support for your project, it is best to get their written approval for your proposal at this stage. This means you may be able to submit your application with the written approvals attached, putting you one step ahead.

Why pre-application is an important step

Taking part in the pre-application process with your Planner and engaging in consultation can be a very worthwhile investment in ensuring a smooth and efficient application process. It can save you time, money and frustration in the long run if you do the consultation work ahead of time.

If you need help navigating this consultation process, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Planning Plus. We will only be too happy to help you.

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

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