Lapsing of resource consents

Obtaining a resource consent can sometimes be a challenging process. It is therefore important that all consent holders are aware of the lapsing date for their existing resource consents to ensure that the benefits of those consents are not lost.

One of the basic rules for resource consents is “use it or lose it”. If a consent is not given effect to before its lapsing date, the consent will expire and will no longer be valid. The only option will then be to start the process again and apply for a new consent.

The standard lapsing date for a consent is five years after the consent is granted (allowing for the appeal period), unless the consent itself specifies a different date. For many people, this will be plenty of time to give effect to the consent. However, for others there may be a number of reasons why it has not been possible to implement the consent within five years, such as the complexity of the project or unanticipated obstacles that have arisen since the consent was granted.

The good news is that it is possible to extend a lapse date in certain circumstances. This requires an application for an extension to the Council, which must be made before the consent lapses. Many Councils have a standard application form available that can be used for this purpose.

Key matters that the Council will take into account when deciding whether to grant an extension include:

  • Whether substantial progress or effort has been, and continues to be, made towards giving effect to the consent;
  • Whether the applicant has obtained approval from persons who may be adversely affected by the granting of an extension; and
  • The effect of the extension on the policies and objectives of any plan or proposed plan.

By way of example, applications to extend a lapse date have been common in Canterbury since the earthquakes due to the delays caused by matters such insurance negotiations and land remediation. Provided that an applicant has been able to provide evidence that they have been making genuine effort to implement the consent during this period, most lapse applications have been granted, even if no or very little physical work has actually occurred on site.   

When a lapse date is approaching, some Councils will send out a letter to the consent holder as a reminder. However, this does not always occur, so proactive steps should be taken to check the lapse date of existing consents without relying on a reminder from the Council.  It is also important to note that there is no statutory timeframe in which the Council must process an extension application, so it is important that any applications are lodged well in advance to enable a decision to be made before the lapse date.

Disclaimer: This is a brief summary for information purposes only and is not legal advice.


Posted on Tuesday 15th September, 2015 at 10:49 am