Hearing Process

What is a resource consent hearing?

A resource consent hearing is a formal public meeting held by the Waimakariri District Council, where an independent Commissioner consider publicly notified or limited notified resource consent applications. The applicant and any expert witnesses, along with submitters present evidence in relation to the proposal.  The hearing follows certain procedures designed to give all parties a fair opportunity to present facts and put forward their case.

Commissioners are independent, with professional expertise in the area of resource management, who have authority delegated by the Council to hear and make decisions on resource consent applications.

Procedures followed before and at the hearing

Before:

  1. Prior to the hearing, the Council sends out to all parties a copy of a hearing notice, detailing the dates, time and location of the hearing.  This is sent to ALL submitters, regardless of them wanting to be heard or not.
  2. 15 working days prior to the hearing, the Planning Officer’s s.42A Hearing report is sent.  This allows time for all parties to read through the information of the proposal before the hearing.

During:

NOTE: Each Commissioner runs a hearing their own way, but as a general rule, most hearings are run as follows:

  1. The Commissioner conducts introductions of everyone at the hearing.
  2. The Commissioner checks if there are any procedural matters.
  3. The applicant presents their case first. Commissioner may ask questions to the applicant.
  4. Submitters then present their cases.  They may speak directly or through a Solicitor, friend, Planning Consultant or agent.  Experts may also be called in support. Commissioner may ask questions.
  5. The Council officer then summarises their report and clarifies any new information which may have arisen from the hearing.
  6. The applicant has the final Right to reply in the hearing.  A Right of reply can be spoken, or in some cases, the Right of reply may be writing after the hearing closes.
  7. If the Commissioner is satisfied they have all the information required to make a decision, they will close the hearing.  If the Commissioner seeks further information the hearing will be adjourned.   It is not unusual for this to happen and the Commissioner to issue a minute to all parties.
  8. The Commissioner will provide their decision to Council within 15 working days of the formal closing of the hearing.  This decision is then sent to all parties.

Decision

The Commissioner has the delegation to make a decision on the consent application.  Timeframes on the decision is up to 15 working days.  The decision is notified in writing and posted and/or emailed to all parties.   Any party has the right to appeal against the decision within 15 working days of the decision being notified.  Information about appeal rights and lodging an appeal is sent out to all parties with the Council’s decision. If you propose to lodge an appeal, we recommend that you seek professional advice, i.e lawyer.

Key Points

  • A hearing is open to the public to attend.
  • If you make a submission but are unable to attend or do not wish to be present at a hearing, your submission will still be considered by the Hearings Panel/Commissioner.
  • The applicant and the submitters are not permitted to ask questions to any of the parties present. All questions must be directed through the Hearing panel/Commissioner.
  • You may present your own submission or statement or be represented by a Solicitor, Planning Consultant, friend or other agent.
  • You will not be required to give evidence under oath.
  • If you have a written statement of the points you wish to make. Please provide at least 8 copies to provide to all parties in the hearing.  This statement can be read or elaborated on.  You may further explain any points raised.
  • When presenting your statement, you are not to introduce any new subject matters beyond the scope of the application or your original submission.
  • Hearings are held no later than 75 working days after the submission period closes for a publicly notified application and 45 working days after the submission period closes for a limited notified application.