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What is a Notice of Requirement and a Designation?

Updated: Feb 11

Auckland Council has a number of Notices of Requirement at the notification stage at the moment (March 2023)- but what is a Notice of Requirement? What is a Designation? In this blog we take a look at what these terms mean and the process.

What is a Notice of Requirement?

A Notice of Requirement is the first step in having a designation included in a district plan (in Auckland, the district plan is part of the Auckland Unitary Plan). Only a “Requiring Authority” can serve a Notice of Requirement on the Council. A “Requiring Authority” includes a Minister of the Crown, a local authority, or a network utility operator approved as a Requiring Authority under the Resource Management Act. This includes for example Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi.

The Notice of Requirement has an interim effect, in that it protects the land for the designated purpose until the designation is confirmed and included in the operative district plan (the Auckland Unitary Plan). This interim effect may impact landowners now if they are looking to develop the land that’s within the proposed designation area. They would likely need approval from the Requiring Authority and you should start consultation with the Requiring Authority in these cases.

If the designation is confirmed it overrides the provisions of the district plan (Auckland Unitary Plan) so the project or the works can be established in accordance with that designation and any conditions attached to it. However, if the land is used for another purpose (i.e., not related to the designation) then the usual district plan (Auckland Unitary Plan) provisions would apply. This could include for example tree protection rules, limits on earthworks etc.

If you are part way through a development or planning a new development, and the land is within a proposed designation, you should seek advice from your planner.

What should the Notice of Requirement (NoR) include?

This is set out in the Resource Management Act, and includes the following information:

  • The reasons why the designation or alteration is needed to achieve the objectives of the requiring authority.

  • The physical and legal descriptions (noting any distinguishing characteristics) of the site.

  • The nature of the work, and any proposed restrictions.

  • The effect that the proposed work will have on the environment, and the proposed mitigation measures.

  • The extent to which alternative sites, routes and methods have been considered

  • The associated resource consents which will be required, and those that have been applied for.

  • The extent of consultation undertaken with parties likely to be affected by the designation, including the reasons why, if no consultation is undertaken.

  • Additional information (if any) as required by regional or district plans or regulations.

What is a designation?

A designation is like a “spot zoning” over a site or a route that is to be used for a public work (e.g., roads, busway, schools etc) in the future. The ‘spot zoning’ authorises the Requiring Authority’s work and related activity on the site/ route without the need for land use resource consent from the Council. Some other resource consents (regional resource consents) are still required.

Once a designation is included in a district plan (the Auckland Unitary Plan in the case of Auckland), a land use resource consent is no longer required for Requiring Authorities to undertake the works as long as what’s proposed is within the scope of the designation. At this stage (the designation stage), there are limited opportunities for public involvement in the processes or associated work.

What happens if my land is with the designation area?

A designation protects the site/ route of a future work, for that specific purpose. If you want to use that designated land, even if you own it, and that use could hinder or prevent the designated works from occurring, you will need the approval of the Requiring Authority.

The designation works could occur many years in the future. Prior to construction, usually around 2 years prior, the Requiring Authority will likely try to purchase the designated land required from you. This may be by mutual negotiation first, but land can also be acquired under the Public Works Act. You can find out more here.

What if my land is outside the proposed designation?

If your land is outside the proposed designation area, you can still be affected. For example, this could be in relation to:

  • During construction, such as from noise, dust from earthworks, disruption to services, changed access to your site etc,

  • Final land use: For example, change to the location of a service, road, intersection, new infrastructure such as bus stations, cycle lanes, a new school etc.

If a Notice of Requirement has been notified, it is recommended that you review the related documents to be sure you understand how you could be affected.

What is the process from NoR to designation?

The NoR goes through a formal process, including a period of detailed investigations, review of alternatives and consultation before the Notice of Requirement is served on the Council. You can see more of the process in the graphic below and in this link.

Source: Supporting Growth Alliance

Need advice?

If you need detailed planning advice on how a Notice of Requirement affects you or your land, we recommend you discuss this with your planner. You may also need other specialists’ advice, depending on the nature of the Notice of Requirement. This could include for example a transportation engineer or civil engineer.

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.

Hannah holds the qualifications of BSc (Environmental Science) and Master of Applied Science (Environmental Management), is a Member (Int) of the New Zealand Planning Institute and Secretary of the New Zealand Planning Institute Auckland Branch Committee. Hannah is also a member of the Resource Management Law Association.


Please remember that the advice in this blog is general in nature and based on information and advice available at the time of writing. We recommend you get your own planning advice. As with all our blogs this information is preliminary in nature only and we have used our best endeavours to ensure it is correct at the time of writing. It is not intended to substitute for your own investigations or obtaining specific advice from professionals. Planning Plus LtdTM is not liable in any way for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2023

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