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Planning and Resource Consents

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) sets guidelines for the use of New Zealand’s natural and physical resources, in both the urban and rural environments.

Local authorities (eg district, city and regional councils) are required to implement the RMA and oversee its day to day running. The main way we do this is by drawing up district and regional plans. These documents interpret the objectives of the RMA and translate them into actual rules and laws that apply within specific districts and regions.

The Buller District Plan (BDP) has objectives, policies, and methods, including rules that guide how we manage issues affecting people and communities, ecosystems, land, rivers, air and water. The rules in the BDP will say whether you can do something as a permitted activity, meaning you can do it as of right, or whether you need to get a resource consent first.

Resource consents

A resource consent is a formal, written permission to undertake an activity on a particular site. Permission must be obtained to carry out activities that are restricted or controlled by the rules set out in the Buller District Plan.

When you apply to the Council for a resource consent, we follow the processes set out in the RMA.

Resource Management Act 1991.

To find out whether you need to apply for resource consent or for any other planning enquiry, please contact Council’s Duty Planner either by emailing, or by phone (03) 788 9603 between the hours of 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 3pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to discuss your proposed activity.

When is a resource consent needed?

You must apply for a resource consent when you plan to carry out activities that:

  • are not permitted “as of right” in the district or regional plan or
  • exceed the rules of the district or regional plan in some way.
  • If you believe that your proposed activity is permitted or can be carried out without resource consent, you may wish to apply for a Certificate of Compliance.

There are 2 main types of resource consents for district councils:

  • Land use consent
  • Subdivision consent

How do I apply for a resource consent?

You (or someone representing you) will need to complete an application form and submit it to Council.

It is important to supply as much information as possible in order for the consent to be processed in the minimum time. If we need to request further information from you, this will affect when we can begin processing your application.

Frequently asked questions

A deposit is required at the time you submit your resource consent application. You will be invoiced for any additional amount once a decision has been made on your application. Resource management charges and deposit amounts are set annually through Council’s Annual Plan.

Please see the Guide to resource consent fees. This will give you an average cost for the processing of applications.

Resource consents are processed on a full cost recovery basis. The actual cost of your resource consent will depend on the amount of time it takes to process it. You can reduce the processing time by ensuring you complete all forms thoroughly, providing Council with all of the required information and obtaining ‘Affected Party Approval’ from all parties you think will be affected by your proposal, before you submit your application to Council.

For information about the processing of a resource consent application, including timeframes for processing, please see the guides on the Ministry for the Environment’s website:   

Fast track applications

A fast-track process for more straightforward applications (district land use activities) was introduced in 2017.

The flow chart below shows the resource consent process for fast-track applications. 

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 parties such as New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (if your property adjoins a state highway), the Department of Conservation (for example if the activity is in a coastal environment or on the margins of a lake or river) or the Buller District Council as the infrastructure owner.

When seeking affected parties' approval, please ensure all parties sign the site plans and fill in the Affected persons approval form.

Check out the useful affected parties information and forms on our planning application page.

In this case, consent may proceed as being limited notified. This means the people that 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 application can continue to be processed by a planner. If a proposal receives any submissions and the submitter wishes to be heard, a hearing may be held.

Public notification of a consent occurs when 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 able to make a submission. 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 issued.

While processing time depends on the complexity of the application, 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.

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

The first step for an applicant is to gather the necessary information needed for an application.

Following this, applicants should fill an application form and attach the necessary documents. The deposit must be paid at the time the application is submitted to the Buller District Council.

Our planners will then assess your application and begin processing it. A consent application may be returned if it is incomplete. If further information or written approval from affected parties is required, the application will be placed on hold.

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, or at the request of the applicant. Similarly, consent may become publicly notified at the request of the applicant or if the proposal may potentially have effects that are considered more than minor.

Finally, a decision will be issued. If granted, the decision will have conditions that the consent holder must comply with.

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

To check the zoning of your property, go to Westmaps then click on Buller District Plan.

A recession plane is an angle taken from an internal boundary (i.e. one that adjoins another property rather than a road) to determine whether a proposed building will shade a neighbouring property more than is permitted. The recession plane guidelines can be found in Part 7.6 of the District Plan. 


To find out whether you need to apply for resource consent or for any other planning enquiry, please contact Council’s Duty Planner either by emailing, or by phone (03) 788 9603 between the hours of 10am to 12pm – 2 pm to 3pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to discuss your proposed activity.

You will also find the rules and controls relating to specific activities by referring to the relevant section of the District Plan.


If you do not enact 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 (ie 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. 

The expiry date of a resource consent cannot be changed by seeking a change of conditions.

Council will consider if anyone is affected by the proposal. Prior to submitting a change of conditions application, you may wish to seek affected parties approval from anyone who made a submission on the original application. 

Monitoring of resource consents is carried out by Council’s planning and compliance staff. 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. 

Time spent by staff to monitor the consent will be charged to the consent holder. 

The National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NES) applies to particular activities on a piece of land where an activity or industry described in the current edition of the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (HAIL) is being undertaken, has been undertaken, or it is more likely than not that it is being or has been undertaken.

To help determine whether or not the NES will apply, please ensure you fill in the below NES declaration form and submit it with all resource consent applications.

Declaration for The National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NES)

All resource consent applications must be considered subject to Part 2 of the RMA. In reaching a decision on an application, Council has to be satisfied that by granting the application, Part 2 of the RMA will be achieved. Resource consent applications must include an assessment of the activity against the matters set out in Part 2 of the RMA. To assist in providing a Part 2 Assessment, feel free to use the below document and fill in the relevant sections and submit it with your application:

Information on deemed permitted boundary activity can be accessed here:

Information for applicants: Deemed permitted boundary activities

View Buller District Council's resource consent/resource management costs on our fees and charges page.