Nine Waikato councils have banded together to develop a more customer-friendly resource consenting process.
The initiative has aligned resource consenting processes, making it consistent across all nine councils involved. Each council will maintain its own statutory responsibilities but work from a common base. Councils will use the same resource consent application forms and decision letters.
The initiative was driven by Waikato Local Authority Shared Services Ltd (WLASS), a council-owned company which promotes shared services between Waikato-based councils. WLASS aims to reduce costs and duplication, have councils work more efficiently, promote best practice and make councils more customer-friendly.
WLASS chair and Waikato District Council chief executive Gavin Ion said a more stream-lined and consistent consenting process would be welcomed by customers who can struggle with the bureaucracy and time involved in applying for a resource consent. This was a first step in aligning planning between councils.
“The RMA is a complex piece of legislation and working with it can be challenging for customers and for council staff. This project aims to provide some consistency and make the process easier and more efficient for all of us charged with working with the legislation,” he said.
“Customers will know what they can expect and what is involved and importantly, those expectations will largely be standard across the region. Customers working with multiple councils should find the consenting process more efficient.”
Waikato-based property developer Kevin Honiss, who works across multiple councils, welcomed the change.
“It will save developers and property owners time and money and will make the whole process easier for council staff as well. It’s going to be more efficient for everyone and that’s a good thing.”
Kevin said he would like to see the initiative go even further.
“It would be great if there was a more consistent planning regime as well because at the moment every council has a different rule and every rule is different. Auckland is going in the right direction with its Unitary Plan and if can learn from that in Waikato, we should.”
Senior planners within each council developed the aligned process. Councils involved are Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Waipa, Waitomo, Rotorua Lakes, Matamata-Piako, South Waikato and Waikato District Councils as well as Hamilton City Council.