About resource consents

Find out how resource consents, the District Plan, Resource Management Act (RMA) and National Environment Standards work.

Resource consents and the district plan

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), councils must prepare plans (known as district plans) for the area they administer. Each plan has zones, and each zone has objectives, policies and rules to encourage or deter activities. District plans promote the RMA’s purpose, which is to sustainably manage natural and physical resources.

The Wellington City District Plan and the National Environmental Standards give the coolest little capital its planning framework, and outline what you can do as a permitted activity and what you need resource consent approval for. The District Plan is developed with public input and is reviewed chapter-by-chapter.

When you need resource consent

You need resource consent if your proposed building work, sign or activity does not comply with the District Plan or a National Environmental Standard.

At Wellington City Council we deal with two types of resource consents: subdivision and land use consents.

  • subdivision consent is needed to legally divide land or buildings for separate ownership, for example into new lots or sections (fee simple or a boundary adjustment), or as a unit title, cross lease, or company lease.
  • A land use consent may be needed for particular activities such as extending or constructing a new building.

Greater Wellington Regional Council looks after all other types of resource consents.

Activities that may require a resource consent are, for example:

Why resource consents exist

A resource consent is basically an assessment of your proposed work against the relevant district plan rule or rules. We check to see if your proposal is acceptable under these rules, or if it will affect your neighbours or the community (affected parties) so much that it needs to be notified.

The level of a proposal’s effects, such as traffic generation, noise, or privacy, is often compared against what is already allowed in the District Plan. This isn't a mandatory test, but is rather a discretion that the Council may exercise. For example: you might want to build a house 8.1 metres high in an area where you are allowed to construct an 8 metre house without a resource consent. A planner could compare the effects of the 8 metre house against the 8.1 metre house when assessing your proposed work.

A planner will decide if a resource consent will be issued and the conditions that apply. If needed, the planner will get input from other experts, such as a traffic or acoustic engineer. The planner will decide if there are any affected parties and if the application needs to be notified. The Ministry for the Environment has more information on your rights as an affected person and what's involved in the resource consent process.

If your proposal complies with the District Plan or a National Environmental Standard, you can apply for a Certificate of Compliance (different to a building Code Compliance Certificate). This confirms the activity is permitted without resource consent and it's our only way to confirm this formally in writing.

Getting a resource consent

We recommend you have a pre-application meeting before making your resource consent application, especially if your proposal is for a more complex development such as a new building or multi-unit housing in a residential area.

Simpler projects, such as building a new deck, may only need an email, phone call or appointment with our planning technicians. You can book an appointment to see a technician by phoning our Contact Centre on 04 499 4444 or by emailing the Resource Consents team at planning@wcc.govt.nz.

Appointments are held Monday to Friday, between 8.30am and 11.30am.

Once we receive your application we should process it within 20 working days, unless it is a notified consent. The Ministry for the Environment has a helpful flow chart(45KB PDF) outlining the six-month notified resource consent process.

You must get resource consent from us before you start work. Failing to do so could lead to building delays while you get your consent, or costly changes to your proposal because you can’t get written approval from affected parties. If you keep working you could end up dealing with our compliance team.