Private Plan Changes

The Resource Management Act 1991 allows any person to seek changes to the District Plan through a request for a private plan change. The Council can also initiate plan changes. Refer to ‘What is a Plan Change?’ for general information on this process.

All plan changes are required to go through public notification, submissions and hearings processes, including the right of appeal to the Environment Court.

Private plan changes can be used to change or introduce new provisions into the District Plan, for a variety of situations, including but not limited to:

  • Rezoning of land.
  • Addition of a building to the schedule of heritage buildings.
  • Amendments to rules.

Under clause 25(4)(e) of the RMA, Council has the option to reject a private plan change request made within 2 years of a district plan becoming operative. In the case of the above requests, Council did make a decision to reject both private plan change requests using this provision. The applicants appealed this decision and the matter was heard before the Environment Court. We are currently awaiting the decision of the Court.

Should I apply for a private plan change?

In some cases it may be more appropriate for you to apply for resource consent for your proposal. Essentially resource consents grant permission for an activity, while a private plan change alters the District Plan itself.

The Council actively monitors the effectiveness of the District Plan and will regularly initiate plan changes to respond to emerging issues. The Council is currently undertaking a sectional review of the entire District Plan. We advise that you contact a member of the Planning team if you are considering applying for a  private plan change. If your proposal is not an issue the council is proposing to deal with through the plan change process, you have the option of applying for a private plan change.

What does the private plan change process involve?

If you have decided to investigate the viability of undertaking a private plan change, you will need to be familiar with the process below.

  1. The applicant lodges a private plan change request with the council. This must be in writing and express your reasons for the plan change and describe the environmental effects of the proposal. You will need to produce a plan change document that includes an explanation of the proposed change and a section 32 report which assesses the costs and benefits of alternatives to the plan change.
  2. The council processes the request. It can request further information and commission reports if necessary.
  3. The council modifies the request with the applicant’s permission, if appropriate.
  4. The council decides whether to adopt, accept or reject the plan change request, or to convert the request to a resource consent.
  5. The council publicly notifies that it has adopted or accepted the plan change, allowing submissions and further submissions from the public to be made.
  6. The council holds a hearing if required, where it assesses the plan change, and the submissions made. The council will then publicly notify its decision.
  7. Any submitter can appeal the council’s decision to the Environment Court within 30 working days.

How long does it take?

A basic private plan change can take between six months to one year to process. A more complex plan change could take two years to process.

An application containing evidence of appropriate consultation and complete and correct information will take less time to process.

How much will a private plan change cost?

You will require expert advice from a planning consultant to prepare the private plan changes. Any costs associated with this are at your own expense.

The council requires a deposit on receipt of a private plan change to process the application. This is only a deposit and additional fees are likely to be required. This cost covers all staff time, professional expertise and associated notification costs. The total cost of a private plan change will depend on the scope of the request.

How do I apply for a private plan change?

Before preparing your application it is best to arrange a meeting with one of the Council’s Planning team. It is also advisable to hire a planning consultant to help you prepare your application.