Frequently Asked Planning Questions

The frequently asked questions below may help you. We have broken them into the following topics:

Affected Parties & Public Notification

Affected parties are anyone that Council deems to be affected by a proposal. Often these are neighbours or surrounding landowners, however this may also include external party’s such as NZTA (if your property adjoins a state highway), Department of Conservation (for example if the activity is in the coastal environment or margins of a river) or the Tararua District Council as the infrastructure owner. If you can obtain the written approval of affected parties, your application may be processed on a non-notified basis.

In this case consent may proceed as being limited notified. This means the people that the Council has identified as being potentially affected, but haven’t provided their approval, are notified of your application and are given an opportunity to submit on your proposal. If no submissions are received, the consent may finish being processed. If a proposal receives any submissions a hearing may be held.

Public notification on a consent occurs when the Council deems the effects of a proposal to be more than minor or affecting the wider community. If a consent is publicly notified, members of the public are invited to submit for or against the proposal. In the event of no submissions, the consent may proceed. If submissions are received, the submitters are invited to a hearing to raise their issues. Following the hearing the submitter’s views are considered and a decision is given.


The District Plan divides activities into the following categories:

  • permitted;
  • controlled;
  • restricted discretionary; and
  • discretionary.

The differences between them are whether or not a resource consent is required; how the application is assessed by Council; and whether the consent may be refused and what conditions could be imposed on the consent.

A recession plan is an angle taken from all site boundaries to determine whether a proposed building will shade a neighbouring property more than is permitted.


The ‘term of consent’ varies depending on the type of consent it is and also the term requested. Some consents are unlimited and will stay relevant forever. Other consents have a limited term which has an expiry date. Limited term consent may be replaced in order to increase its term if replacement is applied for with no less than six months until it would expire.

If you do not start the activity authorised by your resource consent within five years of it being granted (or the commencement date specified on the consent), the resource consent will automatically lapse. If a consent is exercised and then not exercised for a continuous period of five years Council can also cancel a consent by giving written notice to the consent holder. You can apply to us for an extension of the lapsing period provided you apply before the consent lapses.

Council may only grant an extension of the lapsing period after considering whether substantial progress has been made, and continues to be made, giving effect to (exercising) the consent, if any affected parties have given their approval to the extension, and the effect of the extension on the objectives and policies of any relevant plans (i.e. the District Plan).


You may apply to change the condition of an active land use consent at any time. A change of condition to a subdivision consent must be made before the survey plan is deposited. If the consent was not originally notified then it can be a simple process handled by our Planning team. If your consent was publicly or limited notified, then a change of condition may be subject to submissions and can lead to a hearing. The expiry date of a resource consent cannot be changed by seeking a change of conditions.

Monitoring of resource consents is carried out by the Council’s Compliance Officers. This is separate from any monitoring or inspections related to a building consent. Consent holders have a legal obligation to comply with the conditions of their consent.

If a consent holder does not comply with the conditions of their consent, Council staff may take enforcement action to require compliance. The exact nature of this action will depend on matters such as the degree of non-compliance, frequency and the effect on the environment, but ultimately the Resource Management Act gives Council both the duty and the tools to enforce compliance. The maximum penalties set out in the Act are very severe.


The first step for an applicant is to gather the necessary information needed for an application. Following this, applicants should complete an application form and attach the necessary documents. The deposit must be paid upon submitting the application to the Planning Department at Tararua District Council. Our Planners will then assess your application and begin processing it. A Consent application may be returned if it is incomplete.

During processing the application may be put on hold by Council if further information or written approval from affected parties is required. A site visit may also be conducted if it is deemed necessary to assist in processing the consent. The consent may be limited notified if written approval cannot be sought from affected parties. Similarly consent may become publicly notified at request of applicant or if the proposal may potentially have an effect on the greater community.

Finally a decision will be issued to the applicant providing any conditions which must be complied with.

Note: Some consents require monitoring of particular conditions. This occurs after the consent has been granted.

There is a statutory timeframe of 20 working days to process an application. In the case of further information or affected parties sign off being required the consent may be put on hold, effectively stopping the clock until the information needed is provided. If an application is “notified” (limited or public – see below) then the process is extended to include a submission period, perhaps a hearing and then a decision.

While processing time depends on the complexity of the application as well as the general work load of the Council, you can speed up the process by making sure all the information we require is provided with the application. If you believe your neighbours may be an affected party it is a good idea to include their written approval with the application; if they are willing to provide it.

Note: Council often recommends working with a consultant, as although this can be costly, it can speed up the process and may actually reduce costs.


A copy of the District Plan can be viewed online. This plan contains ‘rules’ for each of our Management Area’s (Rural, Residential etc). Once you have found which Management Area you fit within, you can view the relevant rules in the appropriate section of the District Plan.

Your Management Area can be found on our website. This is the Planning department’s zoning system. It is important to note that the Rating department have a different classification system. This means your property may have two different zone types, for example ‘residential’ in the rates system, but ‘commercial’ in the Planning Management Area’s. The rates zone is based on services provided and governs how rates are charged, while the Management Area’s govern which rules apply to land use and subdivisions.

No. Land use consents are granted for a specific activity or breach of the District Plan which must be included in your application.


Most types of subdivisions will require consent. If you can meet a certain criteria, your subdivision may proceed with a controlled status. If it cannot, it must proceed as a discretionary activity. Either way you must apply to subdivide with the necessary information before it can be consented.

You should seek advice from a Surveyor or Planning Consultant prior to applying for consent. Council are able to provide some initial free advice. The Council will assess each subdivision case individually in response to an application. No guarantee can be given on the eligibility of a property to be subdivided.