Resource Consent Nightmares

Never expect a Resource Consent Application to go smoothly even if you expect it to be a mere formality. A recent application demonstrated this.

A proposal in Queenstown required Resource Consent where on a sloping site we were excavating more material than allowed by the zone threshold. All the relevant information was submitted and approved by the council engineer, only to find that the planner had an issue with the location of the building. Although the design complied with the District Plan in regard to setbacks, the planner noted that recently it was council policy to take the setback from the inside of a right of way.

Nowhere in the District Plan was this demonstrated, so I asked to see the Council Policy Statement or Notice that surely all the planners must have received to implement this policy, but no there was no such thing. This is a problematic, if much effort, time and expense is invested in a design that satisfies the Rules of the District Plan but is then stopped by the Councils own in-house set of rules, I can see some massive bun fights are in the making. Fortunately our only infringement in the ’revised’ setback was the garage, which is a ‘controlled’ activity. This was a relatively easy addition to the resource consent to satisfy, or was it? Unfortunately no, the council saw the infringement as dangerous as the garage might cast a shadow upon the Right of Way that serves one adjoining neighbour. So more effort was required to prove that in summer there may be some shadow but in winter when frost or snow may build up, the garage did not cast a shadow. We got there in the end but the additional time and money involved was entirely unpredictable and unpleasant for my clients.