Designations, Notices of Requirement and Outline Plans

These notes have been updated for 2017 and 2020 legislative amendments but not updated for best practice. 

This note provides an introduction to designations, notice of requirements and outline plans under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). It includes an overview of requiring authorities and network utilities operators and the powers that designations provide to these bodies in relation to the use of land, including landownership and the Public Works Act 1981. 

This note also provides guidance on the following processes: 

  • preparing a notice of requirement 
  • processing a notice of requirement, ‘rolling over’ existing designations and modifying existing designations the territorial authority as the requiring authority 
  • implementing designations through the outline plan process 
  • enforcement. 


Designations form a key part of the district plan review process. The plan review process provides an opportunity to 'roll over' existing designations, modify existing designations including a territorial authority's own designations, and also for requiring authorities to introduce new requirements. Schedule 1 of the RMA deals specifically with how new requirements can be included in, and existing designations carried over into, proposed district plans. 

New requirements can also occur outside the plan review process when requiring authorities serve a notice of requirement. The notice of requirement is an interim notice that protects land for the designated purpose until the final decision whether to confirm the designation is made by the requiring authority.  

An outline plan is a plan or description of works that a requiring authority proposes to carry out works on a designated site. The outline plan often contains more detailed information that was not available when the notice of requirement was prepared. This is intended to allow some flexibility about the future use of land while the protecting the land for a specific purpose.