Most of our ‘Northern Suburbs” homes are zoned “outer residential”.
Sounds innocuous, right?
Rules is rules
When you wake with a shock to the rumble of bulldozers demolishing structures and shifting earth and rock next door, that could be the first time you know that a block of units is going up, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
That’s because Wellington City Council has given itself the right to legally approve multi-unit developments just about wherever they like, without bothering with pesky little administrative blockages like consulting people.
So what can happen if you hear about the new development after WCC grants consent? What if you discover too late that there’s to be no new water and sewage infrastructure, or not enough parking, or unable to cope with emergency vehicles?
Well, you’re kind of stuffed. Once they’ve issued a resource consent, the council can’t legally retract it. If you (as an affected neighbour) want to that done, your only option is to apply for a Judicial Review, which means you’ll be seeing a lot of the inside of the lawyers’ offices and then the High Court (Costly. Protracted. Painful).
For your rights: Register
So we at JCA urge you … don’t let it get that far! Wellington council posts details of new consent applications “publicly” online every month or so (sometimes less frequently, sometimes more). If your neighbour sells their house and you suspect the new owner may seek to redevelop the site, then register HERE as a “concerned neighbour”. WCC promise to email you whenever they receive a consent application for that property.
Why bother? I, for example, live in a cul-de-sac atop a steep hill, with almost zero on-street parking and no footpaths. I will, therefore, be registering as a “concerned neighbour” for every property in my street; this may require multiple “registrations” on the above WCC site, but at least that means I’ll have a chance of taking action before WCC approve a development that is out of proportion to the ability of my tiny street to cope with the traffic.
A couple of warning points:
- occasionally this system goes on the blink (last year it failed two months in a row).
- Also, if they update this list at the end of the month and the consent application you are interested in was filed at the start of that month, the consent might be approved by the time you even see it (!).
‘Advised’ is not ‘Notified’
And one final jargon-busting note. Being “advised” by WCC of a resource consent application for a nearby property is one thing; being “notified”, or being deemed an “affected party” to your neighbours development (both terms which have particular legal meaning under the Resource Management Act) is quite another matter. They will be the subject of another post. Stay tuned!