Within the framework of the Resource Management Act, the term Land Use generally refers to how land can be used. This is controlled under the RMA by rules of the Local Authority District or Regional plans.
Firstly, those activities that do not require consent from Council (as long as they meet particular standards) are classified as Permitted. An example of a permitted activity is a dwelling on a residential zoned site, as long as it meets controls such as height, distances from boundaries, etc.
Secondly, those activities that do require consent from Council, but will be granted subject to appropriate conditions, are classified as Controlled activities. This classification is less common than it used to be.
There are three categories which Council can either refuse or approve consent, subject to conditions. These are Restricted Discretionary, Discretionary, and Non-complying Activities. For the former, Council have limited the issues which they will consider when deciding whether to grant consent. For the latter, Council can only grant consent if the effects are no more than minor.
And finally, there is a category, for which Council can not grant consent, and this is termed Prohibited.
These categories are defined in the RMA, and Councils through their Plan reviews and Plan changes determine which activities fall into which category. Understanding the plethora of rules, and how the activity status and controls fit together can be like traversing a minefield.
Fortunately our planning staff deal with these rules and controls every day and can provide guidance and simple to understand advice. So if you need a landuse consent, or are not sure if you do, give one of planning team a call, and they can step you through the process, or act on your behalf to obtain the necessary consents.