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Dunedin City Council – Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti
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Resource consent decision making

The RMA specifies maximum timeframes for processing resource consent applications.

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) sets out the matters the Dunedin City Council shall have regard to (and other matters we must disregard) when considering an application for resource consent and any submissions received.

Matters to be considered

The relevant matters can include:

  • Any actual and potential effects on the environment
  • Any relevant provisions of a statutory planning document such as:
    • A national policy statement (e.g. The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement),
    • A regional policy statement or proposed regional policy statement,
    • And the provisions of a regional plan or proposed plan,
    • And the provisions of the District Plan or proposed District Plan
  • Any other matters the Dunedin City Council considers relevant and reasonably necessary to determine the application.
  • The purpose and principles of the Resource Management Act that are set out in part 2 of the Act

For certain types of application, the consideration of the Council may be limited to only some of the above matters. In some cases, the discretion of the Council may be restricted to specific issues and effects identified in the District Plan. We may also disregard an adverse effect of a proposed activity on the environment if the District Plan permits another activity with the same effect.

The RMA sets out some things the Dunedin City Council must not do. These are:

  • Have regard to trade competition
  • Have regard to any effect on a person who has given written approval to the application
  • Grant a consent contrary to the provisions of section 217, any Order in Council in force under section 152 or under any regulations
  • Grant a consent if the application should have been publicly notified but was not
  • Grant consent for a prohibited activity
  • Grant a subdivision consent where the land is likely to be subject to damage by erosion, falling debris, subsidence, slippage or inundation
  • Grant a subdivision consent where sufficient access to lots is not available.

Decisions on applications

The RMA also sets out the circumstances in which we may/must grant or decline consent, with reference to the type of activity for which consent is sought. Under each of these sections the manner of any grant or refusal is:

Controlled Activities

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, we must grant this type of application, but may impose suitable conditions in relation to those matters we've reserved control over, as set out in the District Plan.

Discretionary Activities (Restricted)

We may grant or decline this type of application, and if we chose to grant it, then we may impose conditions. However, these conditions must relate to the specific matters over which we have reserved control in the District Plan. Our discretion to refuse consent is also restricted to certain matters relating to the Plan provisions.

Discretionary Activities (Unrestricted)

We may grant or decline this type of application, and if we chose to grant it, then we may impose conditions. These conditions can relate to any effect or matter we consider is relevant to the application. Similarly, our discretion to decline consent is not limited.

Non-complying Activities

We may grant or decline this type of application, and if we chose to grant it, then we may impose conditions concerning any relevant matter. Likewise, we can decline consent on the basis of any relevant consideration. However, before we can determine if an application merits approval, we must first be satisfied that either the adverse effects of the activity on the environment will be minor, or the proposed use will not be contrary to the objectives and policies of the District Plan. This consideration is commonly known as the 'threshold test'.

If either one of the limbs of the threshold test can be passed, then the application is eligible to be considered for approval. All the things listed above under "The matters to be considered" will then apply. If neither limb is passed, then the application must be refused.

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