Extensions of resource consent application processing time

This page reports on extensions of resource consent application processing time using section 37 of the RMA.

RMA requirements

Local authorities have a statutory timeframe within which to process applications. Under section 37, they can extend these timeframes up to double the maximum period specified in the RMA when there are special circumstances or when the applicant agrees to the extension. A local authority can only extend the time period by more than twice the maximum time period specified if the applicant agrees.


  • 73 of 78 local authorities used section 37 of the RMA to extend timeframes for processing resource consents.
  • Of the five local authorities which did not use section 37 of the RMA, only one resource consent out of 180 was not processed within the statutory timeframe. 
  • Over the last three survey periods:
    • the percentage of section 88 (new) resource consent applications for which a section 37 extension of time was imposed has increased by 2 per cent per survey period
    • the number of local authorities imposing section 37 extensions has increased (see Table 1).

Drill down into the data using our data tool.

Download the complete dataset for resource consents [Excel, 16,375 KB].

Table 1: Use of section 37 extensions of time for resource consent applications under sections 88 (new) and 127 (change/cancellation of condition)





Section 88 consents




Section 127 consents




Number of local authorities that used section 37




Source: National Monitoring System 2014/15, RMA Survey 2010/11 and 2012/13

Limitations and local authority practices

Variance on how section 37 of the RMA is applied by local authorities is evident, including in relation to administration. 

  • Section 37 enables local authorities to extend timeframes specified in the RMA if the applicant agrees or there are special circumstances. However, some local authorities extend timeframes at the request of an applicant.
  • Local authorities applied section 37 extensions at various stages of the resource consent process, including on or just after the lodgement date. A number of local authorities provided dates for the application of a section 37 extension that were the same or after the date the decision on the resource consent was issued.
  • From the data provided:
    • 25 local authorities (34 per cent) applied at least one section 37 extension on the same day the decision was issued
    • 17 local authorities (23 per cent)  applied at least one section 37 extension after the decision was issued.

There may be instances where a local authority is not accurately recording the date the section 37 extension was officially applied:

  • 24 local authorities have ‘data not available’ for at least one portion of the section 37 extension related data requested (eg, the date the section 37 was applied, or the number of working days the extension was for, or the reason for the extension).

See the Act

For more information on the RMA related to this page see the following sections of the Act on the New Zealand Legislation website.