Private Plan Change or Resource Consent

A resource consent grants permission for an activity, while a private plan change alters the plan itself. A plan change normally provides greater flexibility in terms of development options and long-term management for the developer. However, any change promoted can be amended and regulated through the submission and hearing process.

The RMA does not have specific requirements concerning whether applicants apply for resource consent or a private plan change. The applicant can choose which to apply for, and can also apply for both. However, case law shows that the courts may decide that one or the other is more appropriate. Early guidance from the council is useful.

Table: Contrasting a resource consent and a private plan change

Resource Consent


Private Plan Change

Allows a site-specific activity

Can be either site specific or district wide

Suitable for contained, one-off activities

Suitable for a range of matters that are not provided for within the current plan provisions

Has a specific 'life' or expiry date

'Life' or expiry date is the same as the life of the plan

Attached conditions; more prescriptive

Sets up a long-term management framework

Generally, cheaper and less time consuming application process

Application process can be very costly and time consuming

Must meet the relevant s104 and s105 criteria

Must meet s32 and Part II tests