The date that the local authority receives an application is the date that the resource consent clock starts ticking. It is therefore important for a local authority to have a consent tracking system that begins from the time a document or information enters its building so that applicants are not penalised by a local authority’s internal procedures.
The first statutory ‘working day’ for an application should be the first full day after the application is received (ie the date that the application enters the local authority, either physically or electronically). For example, if an application is lodged/received at any time after 9am on a Monday, the first statutory working day will be the Tuesday.
If an application is received for the same activity/proposal that has previously been returned under Section 88(3), the lodgement date should be the date the new application is lodged with the council as it must be treated as a new application under section 88(4).
When entering the resource consent information into the council’s consent tracking database, it is important that the applicant’s description of the proposal is adequate. The description should correlate with how the activity would be described in the resource consent if it was granted/refused. It must be worded in a manner that should this information be picked up in 5 years’ time by someone who was not involved in the application, they can clearly understand what the proposed activity was (whether it was authorised or not). Just stating “Land use consent” for example is not an adequate description of an activity.
Once the application has been lodged with the council, it is considered good practice for councils to send an acknowledgement letter/email to applicants informing them of the receipt of the application. This letter/email should outline the lodgement date, and inform the applicant of the next step in the process i.e. that the application will be going through a completeness check in accordance with section 88(3), and that they will hear from council within the next 10 working days as to whether the application is going to be formally accepted for processing (or not).