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Why should you use a planner?

Doing a development costs money- often a lot of money. Budget planning is one of the first steps when investigating development feasibility, including who you need to assist with your development and how much they charge. Sometimes this means hard choices and cost cutting, but should this mean you don’t use a planner for your resource consent application?


Do I need a planner?

In the same way as most people wouldn’t try to get a building consent themselves, you would be well advised to use a planner for a resource consent application. This is because planners are specialists for resource consent applications.

You’d think as planners, our stance would be you should always use a planner. However, in some cases you can get away without one if you were willing to put in the time and effort to investigate what’s required, the plan provisions and pull all the information together. The instances where this is true are however becoming less and less, as truly “simple” projects are rarer and planning rules and provisions are wider ranging and complex. In most cases you need guidance from a planner from the start, to help guide your project as it develops.


Most of the time, trying to write your resource consent application report yourself is also a false economy- you often find these applications take longer for the Council to process and are therefore more expensive, as the information and assessment the Council needs is often missing or not presented in the correct way. This means that the Council will either reject your application as incomplete or do the assessment themselves and charge you for it (often at a higher rate than a planning consultant would charge).


Upfront Advice

Using a planner in the initial stages of development design is hugely beneficial as your planner will identify risks, opportunities and solutions from the very beginning. Using a planner that is familiar with the often complex legislation and regional and district plans affecting your site is critical for identifying these. A good planner will provide you with an understanding of the legislation and plans, Council’s expectations and what you can do to increase your chances of success.


It is important that this is done at the beginning of your development, before your development is too far advanced, and you’ve spent more money to have detailed plans prepared and specialist assessments undertaken. Redesign is expensive, and often means specialists reports need to be updated too, all taking time and costing more money. Getting the right advice upfront saves time and money in the long run and will make your Council process smoother.


Planning advice early in the design process allows you to make informed decisions and maximise your chances of obtaining resource consent.






Getting your resource consent application together

Do you know what’s required to be in your resource consent application documentation? If the Council gave you a list, would you know what everything meant? It can all be very confusing when it’s not something you’re familiar with.


Planners are specialists with the resource consent process and deal with the process every day. This includes not only getting the information together for the application, but also writing the Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) report. This is the formal application report, that assesses your proposal against all the relevant regional and district plan provisions and legislation. It assesses environmental effects, objectives, policies and what the various planning documents are trying to achieve. This is the report that you really do need a planner to write for you; getting this wrong could result in your application being rejected as incomplete before the assessment has even started! Submitting a poor AEE will also mean that the Council will ask more questions and/ or do the assessment themselves, increasing your costs.


Managing the process

Let’s not kid ourselves by saying any consent process is fun- it’s not! However, the goals of the Resource Management Act (RMA) are good ones and the resource consent process is something a lot of people have to go through. Using a specialist is a central part of making the process easier, faster and cheaper for you.


At Planning Plus we usually manage the resource consent process for our clients. With over 60 combined years in the industry, we have a large network of other specialists we work with, enabling us to find the best fit for you, your project and your budget.


Our clients never have to lodge any reports or plans or speak to the Council as part of the application process- we do all that on their behalf. This makes the process less stressful for our clients, as they know someone else is managing things and they can focus on other exciting aspects of the development.


As specialists, planners can also answer the Council’s questions in the way that they need it answered; we know what they’re really asking and what they really want! This means planners can speed up the actual processing of the application, by answering questions directly and quickly.



It may seem odd, but you have to spend money to save money! Most Councils charge on an hourly rate basis rather than a set fee. This means that the longer it takes to process your application, the more expensive it will be. If you put in an application that is missing assessment or other information, it will take longer to process and be more expensive. The more time, effort and money you put into planning and designing a development and the resource consent application assessments, the less time and money it will take to process.


Choosing a Planner

Unfortunately, planning is an unregulated industry, meaning anyone can say that they’re a planner irrespective of their qualifications or experience. It’s important to do your homework and find the right person for you. Also remember that just because someone is cheap doesn’t mean they’re good!

Some things to look out for:

  • Do they have relevant qualifications?

  • What’s their experience with 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 their website, which often contains basic information on a person’s experience and project examples.

  • Have they processed applications for Councils? This gives important insights into the “other side” of the resource consent process that can be invaluable to you, your development and your application.

  • And very importantly, what do their past clients say? Check feedback on their website and on social media.

  • Do they belong to the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI)? This is a good one to check for, as all NZPI members have to sign up to a code of ethics, and also undertake yearly continuing professional development.

  • Do they have professional indemnity insurances? This is another important one to check- not everyone has the relevant insurances.

Want more information?

If you have a specific development in mind and want to discuss with a planner, get in contact with our experienced team.


We are all qualified planners and have over 60 years of experience with resource consents, including over 35 years processing resource consent applications for the Council. With our 100% success rate, trust us with your resource consent application.

Contact us on hello@planningplus.co.nz or (09) 427 9966.


Disclaimer

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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