As of 31 July, Councils face financial penalties for missing key Resource Management Act deadlines.

This will provide a much-needed discipline and should reduce RMA processing delays.

New regime good news for developers

In essence, Councils will be required to provide a discount of at least 1 percent for each day a resource consent process goes over deadline (up to a maximum of 50 percent).

Announcing the change, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith commented that historically, fewer than half of all (typical) consents had been processed within the statutory period of 20 days and said he was confident that the new regulations would drive "a substantial improvement in timeliness".

But stay vigilant

Councils still have a limited power to 'stop the clock' and require more information from applicants for resource consent. They may also throw out applications as being "incomplete" (which in Monopoly terms will send you back to the start of the process "without passing go").

We suspect that these powers may be used more frequently as a means to avoid the discounting regime.

It would therefore be wise, particularly for complex developments, to get involved in pre-application discussions with the relevant authority. Also, make sure before lodging an application that it ticks all the regulatory boxes. And keep an eye on any increases in consent processing charges to ensure that they haven't been introduced to recoup losses sustained from the new discounting regime.

Our thanks to Caroline Fergusson, law clerk, for writing this Brief Counsel.

Further information on the discount regulations can be found here or by contacting the authors on the right.

The information in this article is for informative purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.