If this picture from the Auckland Council website gives you a headache, you’re not alone!
Obtaining an approved resource consent can be a real nightmare if you don’t have the proper team in place to help you negotiate the process. Here are our top tips to get things going smoothly – coming from a company that has repeatedly managed to secure multi-unit resource consents for clients in under 8 weeks!
A good quality application starts with a good quality proposal, one that includes all relevant information and documentation required for us to process your consent smoothly. This will help to reduce confusion, delay and cost, as we do not accept applications which have missing information. We recommend you engage a professional (architect or consultant) to prepare your application, as the requirements are technical”.
– Auckland Council
Sounds pretty straightforward right! Or maybe not… what we see time and time again is people ending up in a resource consent echo chamber. They lodge their consent missing important information or not quite addressing all the necessary standards. It sits in the pile for weeks and due to these few errors, when it’s finally processed it is rejected and sent back to the property owner. They then have to fix these issues, re-lodge and again it sits on the pile… and so it continues!
At I Am Developer we work closely with our planner from as early as the concept design stage to make sure our designs are going to get support from the Council. Nafis Rashid, director of Blueprint Planning and ex-Auckland City Council Planner, knows the ins and outs of the Resource Consent process (and we love to listen to them!). This means that we can smooth out any potential issues or delays before we lodge the application.
And Nafis like this arrangement too! “Having the ability to work side by side with Thomas and his team from the initial concept stage of a project has given us proven results. This puts us at a significant advantage from the get-go, as we are quickly able to identify where the strengths and weaknesses of a site might be and how to de-risk the consenting process with the right design and housing typology”.
We agree. So here are some tips we’d like to share with you.
Tip One: Work Closely With Your Planner.
As highlighted above, bringing an experienced planner onto your team as early as possible is a great way to highlight any potential planning issues, both at the local level (Auckland Unitary Plan), and under the wider RMA (Resource Management Act). A good planner is like having a good lawyer on your side, they should know where to push and where to pull, will help you form a good argument for your project, and have your back at any Council meetings. The planning rules are often not as black and white as intended so having someone with the ability to bend them in your favour or know where the workarounds are, could mean the difference between an approval or a rejection.
Tip Two: Pick a Company That Knows How to Work with People.
When you’re choosing a company to work with make sure they have a trusted team of sub-consultants already in place and are happy to act as the main point of contact between all parties. It can seem tempting to go it alone but unless you have the relevant experience you can lose months in time and money through incorrectly managing people, the council and the specifications of your site. Those with easy access to specialist consultants will not waste your time with dilly-dally answers and will seek out expert advice from the relevant consultants from the outset.
Tip Three: Reports Reports Reports!
The type of consent you’ll need will depend on the type of activity you want to do, and how it’s classified in your local district or regional plan. One of the most common mistakes Nafis sees is the level of misinformation provided or overpromising of development potential for sites, without taking into full account the limitations of a site and its surroundings. This can include infrastructure serviceability and network capacity issues, natural hazards (such as flooding and instability), and most commonly, the incorrect interpretation of planning controls, all of which affect development options for a site.
Getting the right reports from the right people is critical. Whether that’s civil engineers, surveyors, geo-tech engineers, traffic engineers, or ecologists, having the right information to tackle the chosen issue gives you a platform from which to engage the Council with credibility. Also, don’t wait till you’ve drafted up the plans to check if they work – make sure the engineers are engaged as early as possible to ensure their reports are suitable for your design and keep them notified of any changes along the way.
Tip Four (And This is our Favourite!): Collaboration.
Collaboration is key! Working collaboratively and transparently not only allows us to problem-solve effectively, but it also allows us to really seek out the opportunities and potential of a site and maximise it to the fullest. Nafis totally agrees (we even collaborated with him on this article) and when we asked him for his top tip, this is what he passed on:
It’s pretty simple really, seek out consultants that work within a collaborative environment and take a holistic approach to developments. Architects/designers that work closely with planners and engineers (and other relevant consultants) will provide much better advice and have a good understanding of the main issues surrounding property development, so you know you are in good hands.
The collaborative nature of how we operate gives the perfect balance of creativity (architect) and reality (planner), to put it simply we don’t waste time and pride ourselves on getting it right (or as close as possible) the first time. Working together enables us to be proactive and get the design right, rather than being reactive to a problem and having to make significant changes. At the core, it also helps that both myself and Thomas share a passion for well-designed developments and believe this doesn’t need to come at a significant cost, we want to see things get built!”
So there you have it!
A final little nugget from us – remember once your consent has been granted you have five years to carry out the work involved – and a little more time when it comes to subdivisions so keep an eye out for our next blog post about those, coming soon – so get cracking!
There’s always more development tips to be found on our Instagram, and for any questions, or to collaborate with Nafis and I on your next resource consent you can contact us at [email protected], or jump on our website to book a consultation session to get your project started today