Doing a development costs money- lots of money. A wise person investigates all aspects of their development and the people they want to assist, making sound decisions. 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. We’ll expand on this below.
You’d think as Planners our stance would be you should always use a Planner, but in some cases you could 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 more wide ranging and complex. Most of the time trying to do your application 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 if often missing or not presented in the correct way.
The legislation and plans affecting a development are complex and can be confusing. Using a Planner in the initial stages of development design will allow you to have a good understanding of these, Council expectations and what you can do to increase your chances of success. Sometimes even small changes can make a big difference, and it’s important to know about these before your development is too far advanced and you’ve spent more money designing detailed plans, having earthworks or geotechnical investigations done.
Planners can also give you advice about general Council costs, which is critical in your budget planning.
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 used to dealing 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). This is the formal application report, that assesses your proposal against all the relevant regional and district plan provisions and the Resource Management Act. It assesses environmental effects, objectives, policies and what the various plans are trying to achieve. This is the report where 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- its not! However, the goals of the 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 a process such as this easier for you.
At Planning Plus we manage the resource consent process for our clients. They never have to lodge a report, plan or speak to Council as part of the application process- we do all that on their behalf. This makes the process less stressful for the client, as they know someone else is managing things and they can focus on other aspects of the development. As specialists, Planners can also answer the Council 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 quickly.
It may seem odd, but you have to spend money to save money! Most Councils don’t work on the basis of a set fee for resource consent applications and charge on an hourly rate basis. 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. Its important to do your homework and find the right person for you. Remember too that just because someone is cheap doesn’t mean they’re good! Some things to look out for:
Does the person have relevant qualifications?
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.
Do they belong to the New Zealand Planning Institute? This is a good one to check for, as all members have to sign up to a code of ethics, and also continuing professional development.
Do they work to formal terms and conditions? This gives all parties surety on what will happen, including in the event of a dispute.
Do they have professional indemnity insurances? This is another important one to check.
And very importantly, what do their past clients say? Check feedback on their website and on social media.
Want more information?
If you have a specific development in mind and want to talk it through with a Planner, get in contact with our team. We are a friendly team of highly experienced professionals specialising in resource consents and are here to take the stress out of the process for you! Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 427 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.
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.