Councils must consult with their communities when they prepare plans, review plans and consider a change to an existing plan or variation to a proposed plan. This page outlines the stages of the plan preparation and plan change process and how you can be involved.
Stages of the plan preparation process and how you can be involved
The plan preparation process can be broken into five stages.
Stage one: the council notifies a proposed plan or change
The council notifies a proposed plan or change to an existing city, district or regional plan or a variation to a plan that is still being developed by putting a notice in the paper, on their website and/or by sending you information directly.
At this stage, you can make a written submission to the council supporting or opposing the proposed plan, plan change or variation, or provide information that you think the council should consider in making their decisions.
See An everyday guide to the RMA: Making a submission on a proposed plan or plan change on our website for details about how to make a submission.
Stage two: the council prepares a summary of submissions
The council prepares a summary of submissions and will let you know where and when you can view the summary of submissions. You can make a further submission that either supports or opposes a matter in an original submission on those submissions in which you have an interest that is more than the public interest in general, or for which you are representing a relevant aspect of the public interest.
Stage three: the council may hold a hearing
If you or another submitter request to be heard in support of your submission, the council shall hold a hearing. The hearing committee will consider the submissions and hear any evidence that supports the submissions.
A council officer will present a report about the proposed plan, proposed plan change or plan variation.
See An everyday guide to the RMA: Appearing at a council plan or plan change hearing on our website for guidance about appearing at a hearing. A pre-hearing meeting may also be held to sort out issues before a formal hearing.
Stage four: the council makes a decision
The council makes a decision and tells you the outcome in a letter and in a public notice in the newspaper.
If you're unhappy with the decision, you can lodge an appeal with the Environment Court. You should seek professional advice before doing so, and you may be eligible for assistance.
See An everyday guide to the RMA: Environmental legal assistance and An everyday guide to the RMA: Your guide to the Environment Court on our website for information about appealing the decision.
Stage five: the proposed plan becomes operative
The proposed plan, plan change or variation becomes fully operative after the council has made its decision and all appeals, if there are any, have been resolved.