District Plans

A territorial authority (city or district council) must prepare a district plan for its district. 707  The purpose of district plans is to assist territorial authorities in carrying out their functions in order to achieve the sustainable management purpose of the Resource Management Act. 708  District plans must give effect to national policy statements and regional policy statements and must not be inconsistent with regional plans and any applicable water conservation orders. 709

District plans cover issues related to the functions of territorial authorities. These include: 710

  • Ensuring sufficient development capacity for business land and housing.  Regional councils have an identical function. 
  • The effects of land use
  • The control of land use for the purposes of:
    • Avoiding or mitigating natural hazards
    • The management of contaminated land
    • The maintenance of indigenous biological diversity
  • Control of noise
  • Activities on the surfaces of rivers and lakes
  • Control of subdivision

District plans are required to state objectives for the district, policies to implement the objectives, and rules (if any) to implement the policies. They may also state: 711

  • The significant resource management issues of the district
  • Methods, other than rules, for implementing the policies
  • Principle reasons for adopting the  policies and methods
  • Environmental results anticipated
  • Procedures for monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of policies and methods
  • Processes to deal with cross boundary issues
  • The information to be submitted with an application for a resource consent

District plans must be prepared having regard to management plans, strategies, and regulations prepared under other identified legislation, including any emissions reduction plan or national adaptation plan under the Climate Change Response Act.  They also must be prepared having regard to a proposed regional policy statement or proposed regional plan, as opposed to giving effect to the proposed plan. This works slightly different in relation to a combined plan where a proposed regional policy statement, regional plan, and district plan are being prepared together.  In that situation, the proposed district plans provisions are being prepared so as to give effect to the proposed regional policy statement, so that the final document meets the statutory requirements.

District plans have a significant effect on the use of land within the district:

  • Under the Resource Management Act the presumption is that people can use thier land as they see fit, however, no person may use land in a manner which contravenes a rule in a district plan, unless it seeks and is granted a resource consent to do that activity. 712
  • Under the Resource Management Act the presumption is that subdivision cannot be undertaken as of right; it must be either expressly permitted by the district plan, or they need to seek and be granted a resource consent to subdivide. 713
  • Consent authorities must have regard to any relevant district plan when considering an application for a resource consent 714  or water conservation order 715  and a requirement for a designation 716  or heritage order 717 .

For information on the process for the preparation and change of district plans click here.

  1. Section 73 Resource Management Act 1991

  2. Section 72 Resource Management Act 1991

  3. Section 75(3) and (4) Resource Management Act 1991

  4. Section 31 Resource Management Act 1991

  5. Section 75 Resource Management Act 1991

  6. Section 9 Resource Management Act 1991

  7. Section 11 Resource Management Act 1991

  8. Section 104(1)(b)(vi) Resource Management Act 1991

  9. Section 207(c) Resource Management Act 1991

  10. Section 171(1)(a) Resource Management Act 1991

  11. Section 191(1)(d) Resource Management Act 1991

Last updated at 3:00PM on August 20, 2021