Resource consents are sometimes known as planning or development applications and historically were known as dispensations or specified departures.

Some types of resource consent applications are issued by Selwyn District Council and other types of applications are issued by Environment Canterbury (Canterbury Regional Council).

Selwyn District Council is responsible for Resource Consents where:

  • The proposed activity or building does not comply with the requirements of the District Plan, or
  • The proposal involved the subdivision of land.  All subdivisions (this includes boundary adjustments) require a resource consent regardless of whether or not they comply with the District Plan requirements.

The Resource Management Act 1991 provides the legal framework for making a decision regarding whether or not a resource consent application should be approved.

Environment Canterbury is responsible for Resource Consents involving:

  • discharges to air and land (eg septic tanks and solid fuel heaters)
  • water taking, damming or diverting water;
  • coastal marine area activities (except fishing);
  • activities in the beds of rivers and lakes and
  • specific uses of land that may cause soil erosion.

For further information on Regional Council resource consents, you can contact our Regional Council, Environment Canterbury.

Do I need a resource consent?

If you wish to build or use your land in a way that does not comply with the rules of the District Plan or you wish to undertake a subdivision, you need to get a resource consent.

Whether you need a resource consent and what classification of resource consent you require depends on what you want to do and how it's classified in the District Plan.

The district plan sets out rules and related information that will help you decide whether or not you need a resource consent.

You should always check the district plan or contact the Council Duty Planner on Phone 3472868 or email before you make any changes to your property.

The kinds of activities that may require a resource consent include:

  • subdividing a property
  • pruning, removing or working near a protected tree
  • building a new house or making alterations or additions where the work may not comply with the zone rules such as setbacks from boundaries
  • earthworks
  • undertaking business activities outside of a business zone
  • some types of farming activities
  • changing the use of property

The district plan is legally binding and if you breach the rules or don't obtain a resource consent when you need one, you may face penalties.

Applying for a Resource Consent

Ensure your application is prepared using the correct application form.

You will also need to include plans, a certificate of title and an assessment of environmental effects.

You can drop your completed application off at any of Councils Service Centres, post it to Selwyn District Council, PO Box 90, Rolleston 7674, or you can email it to

Your application will need to be accompanied by the appropriate fee.

If your application doesn't include everything that's required, it will either be returned as incomplete (if there is a large amount of information missing) or the additional information will be requested and the application will be put on hold, until we receive the further information.

We strongly encourage pre-application meetings before lodging complex applications. Please contact the Duty Planner if you have any questions by ph (03) 3472-868 or email

Inside the District Plan

The Selwyn District Plan is divided into the Rural Volume, Township Volume and Maps. Both the township and rural volumes are then divided into different chapters which deal with different issues. For example, there is a chapter on building, one on activities and another on subdividing.

The plans begin with introductory chapters which will help you understand and use them. The plans also contain maps and these will help you work out what zone your property is located in. There are different rules for different zones.

Some things you want to do will be dealt with in a range of chapters in the plan or in both a district and a regional plan. For example, a manufacturing business may have business, transport and signage rules which apply to it in the district plan and stormwater rules which apply to it in Environment Canterbury's regional plan. You may need to look through different parts of the district plan and regional plan before you can determine whether or not you need resource consent.

If what you want to do is not specifically mentioned, you may still require a resource consent and you should check the introductory chapters of the plan for guidance.

As well as permitted activities, there are also controlled, restricted discretionary, discretionary or non-complying activities. These activities all require consent and the descriptions indicate the approach the council will take to assessing your application. The meaning of these terms is explained in the plans and in the Resource Management Act 1991.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us for information about Resource Consents.

Either by calling in at the Environmental Services Counter at the Headquarters in Rolleston and speaking to the Duty Planner - no appointment necessary.

Phone the Duty Planner on 347-2868 or email