Growing Places e-newsletter

Welcome to the fourth edition of Growing Places, a quarterly newsletter from the Waikato District Council Consents and Building Quality departments.

The purpose of this e-newsletter is to keep you informed about important information regarding building consents and resource consents in the Waikato district.

 If you wish to receive this via email, you can subscribe here.

Staffing update

Resource Consents staff changes

We’ve had a few changes in the consents team lately. Sadly we said goodbye to Georgia Burborough at the end of April. Georgia has moved up to Auckland to take up an environmental compliance role as an Incident Investigator. We’ve completed recruitment for a number of vacant roles: Congratulations to Emma Ensor who has moved into the role of a Senior Planner and Debra Scott who has moved into the role of Intermediate Planner. We’re in the final stages of recruiting two new graduate planners who are due to start with us soon. We’ve also recently established a new Senior Land Development Engineer position to help with workloads which we are currently recreating for.

In the Consent Administration team, Evonne Miller has moved to another role in Council, and Maureen Boddington is her replacement as one of our two Consent Administrators specialising in 223 and 224 services.  Maureen has been replaced as Property Information Officer by Carletta Bongard who joins us from Auckland Council’s Papakura Office.

We’ve had a small reshuffle in our Consents Technical Team –our Project Information Officers have been renamed Planning and Engineering Officers and Helen Crosby and Audrey Bujang have stepped into two new Senior roles. 

Building Consents staff changes

There have been a few staff changes since the last newsletter. We’re very fortunate to have three new Building Inspectors on board. David Wales and Tom Circuit are already trained, and the third, Tim Goodman, has been learning the role and is now out doing inspections for us.

Unfortunately we’ve also had a Building Review Officer (BRO) leave us to go to Hamilton City Council, which has added to the load on rest of the team. We’re also currently recruiting for a team leader for the BROs – this is a new position. Please bear with us while we continue to do our best in this busy time.

Staff Profile: Meet our Consents ManagerAna Maria

Ana Maria d’Aubert has been at Waikato District Council for five years, and has been the Consents Manager for three of those.

Ana Maria supports five teams who provide a variety of resource consent and property services (resource consents, property enquiries and LIMs, checking of building consents and development contributions).

Ana Maria has an extensive resource consent processing background in local and regional government, as well as with consultancies. Prior to being the Consents Manager, she specialised in processing consents and designation applications for large scale infrastructure projects.

“I live in an old farm house on a dairy farm near Gordonton, with my partner and two cats. I love the natural environment in particular bush walks, native birds, volcanos and occasionally manage to catch a trout in Lake Taupo!

Processing statistics: A busy start to 2017

For the first quarter of the 2017 calendar year, we received 437 building consent applications, of which 169 were for new dwellings. We received 224 resource consent applications – a 22% increase over the same period of the previous year.   


What's happening: Te Kauwhata is booming!

The growth of Auckland continues to have a significant effect on the growth in the Waikato district. In particular, there is substantial residential and commercial growth in the North Waikato and this growth is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.

Levels of development activity in Te Kauwhata have been steadily increasing on the back of the rapid growth of Pokeno. In 2006, the population of Te Kauwhata was 1240. By 2015 this had risen to 1770 and it’s estimated that by 2041 the town will have a population of 4900.

In the 2015/2016 financial year (July 2015 – June 2016), Waikato District Council processed consent applications for 5 subdivisions in Te Kauwhata. In total, this was for 247 Lots. Council also processed building consents for 96 new dwellings.

For the 2016/2017 financial year to date (from July 2016 to now), Council has processed applications for 6 subdivisions at Te Kauwhata, a total of 92 Lots, and 62 building consents for new dwellings.

The growth of the town will have major implications on infrastructure needs, so Council is planning for that growth to ensure that it’s carried out in a sustainable manner.

A structure plan, made operative in 2013, provides for approximately 1800 households over the next 30 years. However, the potential for an additional 1500 (approximate) households proposed by a private developer is being considered. This proposal would require a private plan change application being lodged with Council by the developer. 

Process focus: Site suitability assessments and geotech reports

What is a site suitability assessment?

It is an assessment of a site to determine whether the site is suitable for a particular activity. It may be in the form of a geotechnical report prepared by a suitably qualified geotechnical engineer, or a detailed assessment made by an individual (including photographs). 

A geotechnical report may be requested as further information during the consent process if a site suitability assessment is provided and isn’t considered to be adequate for a proposal.

Who is a suitably qualified geotechnical engineer?

A suitably qualified geotechnical engineer is someone that is registered to undertake geotechnical work either with the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand (IPENZ) and/or the Waikato Building Group.

What does a site suitability assessment include?
A site suitability assessment can include an assessment on foundation design, slope stability, wastewater, storm water, access, earthworks and natural hazards. It might also include recommendations on these matters for any intended development. 

In regards to geotechnical reports, these are required under NZS3604 (New Zealand Standard for Timber-Framed Buildings) to include a minimum of four boreholes.

What consent applications require site suitability assessments?

The requirements for site suitability assessments apply to the following types of consent applications.

  • Majority of building consent applications for new and relocatable habitable buildings.
  • Majority of subdivision consent applications where a new lot is created.
  • For some land use consent applications (e.g. large scale land use activities, extensive earthworks for a building platform, large clean-filling and land fill proposals, depending on activity status).

Why are geotechnical reports required for the majority of new/relocatable buildings subject to building consents?

Waikato District has a range of variable soils including expansive soils. A geotechnical report is required to be provided with all building consent applications for new and relocatable habitable buildings to demonstrate whether the soils constitute ‘good ground’ as defined under NZS3604. 

Whilst the soils may meet bearing capacity, many clay/silt soils are likely to be expansive (that is, outside the scope of NZS3604). If soils are outside the scope of NZS3604; the geotechnical report is required to address this and provide relevant recommendations. The outcome of this soil assessment (slightly/moderately or highly expansive) will determine the foundation design required. The geotechnical report may also make recommendations about other matters such as stormwater, i.e. soils are not free draining and there are separation distances for soakage from foundations etc.

Why is a site suitability assessment required for majority of subdivision applications?
Site suitability assessments are required for subdivisions to ensure a safe and stable building platform can be provided within the proposed lot(s). It also means that any future purchasers can be assured that the lots are suitable for development (subject to any recommendations outlined in the site suitability assessment). 

Unsure whether you need to provide a site suitability assessment?

If you’re still not sure if you need to provide a site suitability assessment or not, call Council on 0800 492 452 (for building consent proposals) or request pre-application advice (for resource consent proposals). 

Note: this information is a general guide for site suitability assessments and is intended to be helpful for those unsure whether or why a site suitability assessment is required. Council has the discretion to depart from these requirements as required on a case by case basis.


Changes to be aware of

Some improvements and reminders about 223s and 224s

We are continuing to make improvements to our 223 and 224 processes so that we can streamline our processes and offer you a more efficient service. Some of these improvements include a new PDF editing programme which allows us to stamp plans electronically. We’ve moved to electronically processing s223s and we’ll look to do s224c at a later stage.

To help make the most of this improved system, when you are lodging s223 applications to, please make sure that you release the e-survey in Landonline so that our administrators can begin processing the application.  

When releasing e-surveys on Landonline, please make sure you generate two packages – one for s223 certification and one for s224. Even if you apply to us for 223 and 224 at the same time, we need two packages as the certification and signoff process for 223 and 224 are quite separate at our end. If you don’t, it will add significant amount of time to manually create the new package and we may come back and ask you to do this.

We’d also like to remind you that there is a $255 fee for s223 / s224 re-signs. Please make sure that there are no significant errors that will result in re-signs. Incorrect references in easement schedules, overlooking easements or amalgamation interests, and including wrong certificates on Landonline are some of the common mistakes we see. Council will waive the fee only if a resign is required because of an error made by us (e.g. typing in the wrong dates for certificates).

Payments for Development Contributions

We now have an additional reference code for payments of Development Contributions. Please put both your consent reference and the Development Contributions reference when paying your 224 clearance account or your building consent fees. The reference numbers can be found on the respective invoices and is also included in any correspondence. By advising us of both reference numbers it ensures that your payment is allocated correctly and helps to limit possible hold ups when issuing your 224 or CCC.

Note: development contribution levies for 2017/18 will be going up in accordance with the Producers Price Index for consent applications lodged after 30 June 2017.

RMA Amendments 

As you may be aware, the legislative process for the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 is now complete, as the Bill obtained Royal Assent on 18 April 2017. The RLAA is now on the Legislation NZ website: Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017

The consenting changes (subpart 2 of Part 1) and amendments to the Conservation Act 1987 (Part 4) will come into force on 18 October 2017.

Some of the key changes relating to resource consents, which come into force in October, are:

  • Councils to consider proposed measures to ensure positive environmental effects to offset adverse effects
  • Introduction of a ‘fast-track’ consent category where Council must give notice of its decision within 10 working days. This will apply to a controlled activity under a district plan (other than subdivision) and activities prescribed as fast-track activities by the Government. 
  • Boundary activities that are approved by the neighbours on infringed boundaries are deemed permitted activities
  • Activities that are a “marginal or temporary non-compliance” can be deemed permitted activity’s at Council’s discretion
  • Additional express restrictions on notification
    • Public notification is precluded subject to special circumstances for certain subdivision and residential activities and boundary activities
    • Limited notification is preclude for controlled land use activity land use proposals 
  • No right of appeal in relation to boundary activities, subdivision, or residential activities, unless the activities are non-complying.


Electronic building consent processing

We are well along the journey to manage our Building Consent processing digitally. This has commenced with our ‘back of house’ processes. 

This means that from about the end of August we will be scanning all building consents on receipt, enabling us to be more efficient and timely in our processing.

We will shortly determine the building consent lodgement guidelines and establish a process to receive digital building consent applications. This will be an interim process before we begin development next year of a system allowing full online lodgement.  

If you are interested in providing us with digital applications please indicate via and we can provide you with the lodgement details when they are confirmed.

Thanks for your patience as we have gone through a particularly difficult period of staff shortage alongside growth in the district. We look forward to providing you with an improved service.


Helpful tips and reminders

Each quarter we'll include some tips that we hope will be helpful for you when you are compiling an application or when interacting with us.

Two notes for the Franklin Section - Subsidiary Dwellings and Yards

We’ve produced a practice note focusing on Subsidiary Dwellings in the Franklin Section of the District Plan. This is to complement the one we released last quarter on Dependent Person’s Dwellings and Sleep-outs in the Waikato Section. This will help you know the ins and outs of the rules when you are preparing your application.  Please click here to view the practice note.

We’ve also produced a brief interpretation note explaining the yard rules in the Franklin. This is relevant to anyone with land covered by the Franklin Section of the District Plan who wants to build and is interested to know what boundary setbacks apply. Please click here to view the interpretation note.

Does your fence or retaining wall need resource consent?

If you are planning on building a fence or retaining wall, you should keep in mind that there may be some restrictions on height, formation and location.

All buildings in the District Plan are required to comply with the building rules, which include setbacks from boundaries. 

In the Waikato section of the District Plan, a fence is considered a building if it is greater than 2 metres in height, and a retaining wall is considered a building if it is greater than 1.5 metres in height.  A combination of a fence and retaining wall is considered a building if the combined height exceeds 2 metres. 

In the Franklin Section of the District Plan, a fence is considered a building if it is greater than 2 metres in height.  A retaining wall is considered a building if it is greater than 1 metre in height from the lowest adjoining ground level.

If your fence or retaining wall is considered a building and it is located within the building setback from the boundary, then resource consent is required.

There are also some additional zone specific rules which need to be considered if building a fence or retaining wall. You should check the district plan to see if these rules apply to your property.  In particular, these rules may apply to Residential 2 zoned properties in Franklin and properties within the Te Kauwhata Living Zone. You can find guidance on interpretation of the Residential 2 Zone fencing rules here.

You should also refer to your certificate of title to determine if there is a consent notice which restricts fencing location and formation.  An example of a consent notice from recent subdivision within Pokeno is: “For Lot xx, any fence located on or within 1m of a boundary with a reserve shall be limited to a maximum height of 1.20 metres and shall not be close-boarded (or of similar solid construction)”.

Suitably qualified person – building consent reports

When applying for building consent, the author of any geotechnical reports, stormwater and wastewater designs are required to be registered with IPENZ or Waikato Building Consent Group. If the author is not registered, you will need to provide:

  1. A peer review from an engineer who is a registered and suitably qualified person; or
  2. Evidence of the relevant author’s qualification and current indemnity insurance; or 
  3. Reporting and design prepared by a registered and suitably qualified person.

Improved wastewater treatment units

If your building project will involve installation of an improved wastewater treatment system (other than a standard septic tank), when applying for building consent the following information needs to be submitted for the system:

  1. A project-specific report and producer statement prepared by a suitably qualified person in accordance with NZS 1547:2012 and demonstrating compliance with the Waikato Regional Plan.
  2. Documents relating to the tank/treatment unit:
    • Performance Certificate – see below.
    • Manufacturer’s technical specifications
    • System warranty
    • Owner's operation, maintenance and planting guidelines
  3. Site drainage plan identifying location of wastewater treatment system, disposal and reserve fields.

You will need to ensure that the system has undergone testing. You can do this by requesting a copy of the Performance Certificate from the supplier/manufacturer. The Performance Certificate is produced by On-Site Effluent Treatment National Testing Programme (OSET NTP) who undertakes performance testing of these types of systems. This provides certainty for our processing staff that has undergone testing and consistently meets the treatment criteria required under the Waikato Regional Plan and current NZ Standards (NZS1547:2012). If your chosen system does not have a Performance Certificate, when applying for building consent you will need to include written confirmation from the Waikato Regional Council confirming permitted activity status under Waikato Regional Plan rule This requirement is project specific.

Please include a copy of all relevant information on both RC/BC applications

We’ve seen an increase in the number of resource consent applications which are missing information. When we discuss this with you, it comes to light that the information has been provided to council but in a building consent application. Please be aware that two separate departments process these consents and with the current high workloads staff do not have time to search on other files. Please include a copy of all relevant information on resource consent and building consent application to avoid confusion. We know it seems frustrating because “council has this information’” however it adds time delays and risks applications being returned or further information letters sent – things we both want to avoid.


Common Further Information Requests (FIRs) for Building Consents

Below is a table listing the common FIRs that are issued on building consent applications. Ensuring you provide this information, where relevant to your build, will help ensure you can receive consent quicker and easier.

FIR table - April 2017

We’d love to get your feedback

We’re interested in what you think about this newsletter so we can improve it over time. Click here to provide feedback.