If you need a planning job done and aren’t sure where to start, your local council is the first stop for advice. Check out your council’s webpage or helpdesk for independent advice on whether the work you are proposing needs a consent.

A planner may be needed if you want to:

  • Undertake a house extension or subdivide your site
  • Do work within a stream or the coastal marine area
  • Remove or prune protected vegetation, i.e. trees of a certain height or bushed areas
  • Do works within land covered by a legal designation or notice of requirement
  • Take water from a bore or discharge material into water (i.e. river, streams)
  • Undertake earthworks
  • Make changes to a heritage or cultural site or structure

It is important to note that whether the property is held privately or publicly, a consent could still be required. A planner can let you know what approvals you need and the options you have.

There are many different kinds of planners, some planners are employed directly by consultancies and work on large projects. If your work is of a smaller scale and less complexity specialisation is less important, for larger works, finding a planner who specialises in that area is beneficial.

Some common planning specialisations are below:

  • Transport Planner - concerned with elements of the transport networks including infrastructure such as roading, highways, railways and the users, pedestrians, cyclists'€™ vehicles, freight, trains and other travel modes.
  • Environmental Planner -€“ works with the natural environment, this may include coastal marine area, freshwater bodies, ecology and vegetation, stormwater matters.
  • Development Planner - works with subdivisions and buildings, could also work with cultural or heritage structures.

We recommend that you prepare a brief for the planning work you want done. The brief is a document that outlines the scope of work and will help the planner provide an accurate estimate of the time and cost.

Your brief should include:

  • Project Description - A description of the end outcome you want, plans can be helpful.
  • Project Methodology -The way that works are carried out matters as well as the end outcome. Depending on how you plan to carry out the works you may need different permits.
  • Exclusions - Specific things you don'€™t want done or included
  • A deadline for completion
  • Other documentation you require for the application

If you're unsure of what to include a planner can help you prepare your brief.

Planning Offer of Service

The planner will provide you with an offer of services, make sure to clarify the costs included and what is excluded, some good questions to ask are:

  • Are responses to council further information requests during processing included?
  • Are other reports needed to support your application (stormwater, arborist, landscape design etc.). If other reports are needed, will they be
    sub-contracted, or will you need to procure them directly.
  • Is engagement needed with landowners, iwi or affected parties, if so, are engagement costs included.

It is important to note that council costs for your application are excluded from the offer, and fees can be substantial, depending on the complexity of your project.

Once you'€™re both happy with the brief, you should formalise this agreement in a legally binding contract.

NZPI members are held to high standards of professionalism and are required to adhere to the NZPI Code of Ethics/Conduct. Browse the NZPI consultants directory to find planning professionals in your area or to look for a planning consultancy.

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