Planning & Consents
Understanding your planning needs
Wynn Williams is experienced in working with local authorities in the preparation and hearings of proposed plans, and managing any subsequent appeals. The team also assists individual submitters on plan changes, and can also assist with private plan changes. 

The team has had extensive involvement with recent expedited planning processes as a result of special legislation, including the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010, the Christchurch District Plan Review process under the Canterbury Earthquake (Christchurch Replacement District Plan) Order 2014, the recovery plan process under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 and the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan process under the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010.

Within the consenting framework, the team is experienced with all aspects of the consenting process under both regional and district plans, and under the National Environmental Standards for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health. This includes assisting clients to obtain resource consents, advising on compliance, assisting with appeals regarding consents, and acting for submitters on consent applications that may affect them or their property.

The team have a broad knowledge base as a result of their work with local authorities, and as such are well placed to provide strategic advice regarding the option of seeking a resource consent versus a private plan change.

Wynn Williams also has extensive expertise in earthquake recovery issues for local authorities, insurance companies and land owners.  The team has advised on the implementation of various policy and planning documents relevant to the Canterbury rebuild, including recovery plans, and the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016.  The team regularly advises on the rebuild and repair of properties affected by the earthquakes, particularly where cross leases and unit titles are involved.

We can also assist with heritage buildings and archaeological sites, including advice on obtaining archaeological authorities under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.




It’s a building…it’s a vehicle…it’s a tiny house!

A number of recent Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment determinations, and District and Environment Court decisions have discussed the legality of ‘tiny houses’, and specifically the question of whether they need to comply with the requirements of the Building Act 2004 and Resource Management Act 1991.

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The beginning of a new era for Christchurch? Amendments to the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016

Nine years on from the devastating earthquake of February 2011, the Government has heralded a movement to a new era of regeneration for Christchurch through the introduction of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Amendment Bill (Bill) to Parliament.

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Plan making post King Salmon: the approach is clearer, not necessarily easier

In a recent High Court decision Auckland Council v Cabra Rural Developments Ltd [2019] NZHC 1892, the Court provided guidance on a range of fundamental issues in plan making. This note outlines the Environment Court and High Court decisions and sets out three key takeaways that anyone involved in plan-making processes should bear in mind.

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Planning for successful cities – a proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development

The Government has announced consultation on a new National Policy Statement on Urban Development, intended to replace the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016.

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Next wave of RMA changes in force

The second tranche of amendments introduced by the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 came into force on 18 October 2017. These amendments aim to further streamline the resource consent process, with a move away from public participation in the process in favour of a more straightforward consenting pathway.

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Have Your Say on the Marlborough Environment Plan

The Marlborough District Council notified the proposed Marlborough Environment Plan (MEP) on 9 June 2016. Now is your opportunity to have your say by lodging a submission.

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National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity not just for Auckland

As foreshadowed in the 2016 Budget announcement, the Government has released the proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS UDC) for consultation. What might surprise many is that it is not just set to address the problem in the Auckland region, but Tauranga, Hamilton, Queenstown and Christchurch are also grouped in the "High Growth Urban Area" category.

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The New Framework to Regenerate Christchurch

Christchurch has a new legal framework to support regeneration over the next five years. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 ("CER Act") expired on 19 April 2016 and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority is no more. The CER Act has been replaced by the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 (the "Act").

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A New Marine Protected Areas Act: Does More Flexibility Result In Better Protection?

In January 2016, the Ministers for Primary Industries, Conservation, and the Environment announced plans to improve the management of New Zealand's oceans by implementing a revised system of marine protected areas designed to improve and build upon management systems which already exist.

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Environmental reforms - a paradigm shift?

On 26 November 2015, the Minister for the Environment, the Honourable Nick Smith, announced the long-awaited details of the suite of reforms to the Resource Management Act 1991 ("RMA") and other environmental legislation proposed in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. The main objectives of the reforms are to achieve better alignment and integration across the resource management system, proportional and adaptable processes, and robust and durable decision making.

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Please sir, may I have a certificate of compliance?

What is a certificate of compliance? • A consent authority issues a certificate of compliance under section 139 of the Resource Management Act 1991 ("RMA") to confirm that an activity can be done lawfully in a particular location without a resource consent (i.e as a permitted activity). A certificate of compliance is treated as a resource consent and provides certainty to a resource user that their activity does not require a resource consent.

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To approve or not to approve; that is the question.

What is a written approval? The resource consent process under the Resource Management Act 1991 ("RMA") provides an opportunity for certain persons affected by an activity seeking consent, to become involved in the decision-making process. A consent authority is required to notify adversely affected persons of the application for consent. Those affected persons are then entitled to lodge a submission in support or opposition to the application. Anyone who has lodged a submission can bring evidence and be involved in the hearing of a resource consent application.

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6 months or bust

The new six-month consent processing time frames will be introduced on 3 March 2015 when Part 3 of the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013 (the "Amendment Act") comes into force. This will have a significant impact on the resource consent process, which has been overhauled in an attempt to make the entire procedure more efficient and provide a degree of certainty to applicants. Although these amendments were originally proposed to hasten "medium-sized projects" the amendments now apply across the board to all resource consent applications.

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Christchurch City Council Plan Review - Another 'Streamlined' Process

The review of the Christchurch City Plan and Banks Peninsula District Plan will be streamlined by an Order in Council made under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 ("CER Act"). The Canterbury Earthquake (Christchurch Replacement District Plan) Order 2014 (the "Order"), which came into force on 8 July 2014, requires the Christchurch City Council ("the Council") to review the existing district plans and develop a replacement district plan. The Order modifies the provisions and application of the Resource Management Act 1991, and remains in force until 19 April 2016.

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AEE's and the need to get it right - watch this space

The litigation regarding noise associated with New Zealand Windfarms Limited's Te Rere Hau wind farm continues, with leave granted by the High Court for Palmerston North City Council to appeal to the Court of Appeal (Palmerston North City Council v New Zealand Windfarms Limited [2013] NZHC 2654, 11 October 2013 Williams J.).

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Existing Use Rights and The Christchurch Rebuild

Existing use rights under the Resource Management Act (RMA) have an important role to play in the Rebuild of Christchurch.

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Queenstown – A Resource Management Hotspot: Shotover Park Case Note

Queenstown has become a hotspot, not only for adventure tourism, but also resource management litigation. In a recent article, we discussed caselaw involving two resource consent applications to build a Pak'nSave and a Mitre 10 Mega at Frankton Flats, Queenstown (the "Consent Cases"). A further development has emerged in a related High Court appeal.

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The Queenstown Central Cases - The Meaning of "Minor" and The Assessment of Non-Complying Activities

The recent decisions of the High Court in Queenstown Central Ltd v Queenstown Lakes District Council have highlighted developments in fundamental principles related to resource consent applications for non-complying activities, the definition of "the environment", and the meaning of the word "minor".

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Do Council's owe a Duty of Care when Issuing S 224 Certificates?

The Courts have recently looked at the issue of whether a Council owes a duty to take reasonable care in issuing a section 224 certificate and ensuring registration of a consent notice under the Resource Management Act 1991.  The outcome of these proceedings may have important consequences for local authorities.

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Reliance on bare or bald assertions: a one-way ticket to a certificate of non-compliance

Recent litigation has seen the High Court provide a timely reminder to consent authorities about the scope of their obligations when processing applications for Certificates of Compliance. As the decisions show, these obligations, if left unfulfilled, can result in costly, time consuming judicial review proceedings to the eventual detriment of applicants, consent authorities and affected third parties.

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Summary of Decisions Requested on Proposed Plans - the Importance of Getting it Right

Many local authorities around the country are in the process of reviewing regional and district plans, prior to notifying proposed new versions of those documents.  Interested persons will be able to lodge submissions and further submissions on the proposed plans.

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When the RMA bites

One of our resource management partners Amanda Douglas writes an article for the Q& M New Zealand Quarrying & Mining about the Resource Management Act.

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Creswick Valley Residents Association Inc v Wellington City Council [2012] NZHC 644

A recent decision of the High Court in Creswick Valley Residents Association Inc v Wellington City Council [2012] NZHC 644 may have significant implications for Councils and their public notification obligations under the First Schedule of the RMA.

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Existing Use Rights and the Permitted Baseline - Rodney District Council v Eyres Eco-Park Limited

The Courts in this litigation examined the relationship between existing use rights and the permitted
baseline, and the relationship between the common law permitted baseline and the statutory permitted
baseline. They also provided guidance on the date at which existing use rights are assessed, where
activities lessen over time and further restricting rules are introduced.

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Simplifying and Streamlining of Resource Consent Applications

The Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Act 2009 came into effect on 1
October 2009, bringing a number of changes aimed at ‘simplifying and streamlining’ a number of resource
management processes.

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Amending A Resource Consent Application Post-Notification - How Far Can You Go?

Situations often arise during the resource consent process where an applicant may wish to change its application after the application has been notified.  The changes may result from concerns raised in submissions, a request for further information from a consent authority, or at the suggestion of the consent authority itself.  The applicant’s own advisers may even suggest that the application be amended to incorporate changes to better serve the applicant’s needs.  This raises the question of whether an applicant can amend an application after it has been notified, without the need to re-notify the application.

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Wynn Williams Christchurch
Level 5, Wynn Williams House, 47 Hereford Street, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand.
PO Box 4341, DX WX11179, Christchurch 8140.
+64 3 379 7622
+64 3 379 2467
Wynn Williams Auckland
Level 25, Vero Centre, 48 Shortland Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
PO Box 2401, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.
+64 9 300 2600
+64 9 300 2609

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