The Environment Court has held that a request for a private plan change can be made at any time, but an actual change can only be made to an operative plan. In exceptional circumstances, a council has made a variation to the proposed plan on behalf of a landowner seeking the rezoning of land. A range of case law demonstrates the legal requirements for when changes are made.
The private plan change process usually takes from six months to one year, but it can take as long as three years. Current costs range from a minimum of $10,000 to $1M for large-scale developments. Average costs are around $30,000 to $50,000 for a rural residential subdivision with minimal opposition. Such costs and processing times may not be significantly different to those associated with a resource consent application for the same activity.
An applicant might ask the council to contribute to the funding of a private plan change request, on the grounds that the development will have some degree of public benefit or has links to council policy.