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Norman Waterhouse

Building consents under the PDI Act: who is the relevant authority?

The role of building officers under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI Act) will continue largely unchanged from that under the Development Act 1993: They will assess applications for building consent and provide advice on applications (as a person with “prescribed qualifications”) to the relevant authority.

The “prescribed qualifications” are accreditation to the requisite level under the PDI Act accreditation scheme. If a building officer is not accredited under the PDI scheme, another accredited officer or a private practitioner, will need to review any assessment and provide advice to the relevant authority.

Who is “the relevant authority”?

Unlike the current scheme, Councils will not be relevant authorities for building consent under the PDI Act and Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 (PDI Regulations). The relevant authorities will be:

  • Assessment Panels; and
  • building certifiers.

However, a Panel can choose to refer applications for building consent that are made to it to either the Council, or a building certifier. If this occurs, the Council or certifier will become the relevant authority (Section 99 of the PDI Act).

This referral function is similar to that which currently applies where the Commission is the relevant authority under Section 34(2) of the Development Act.

Alternately, a Panel can choose to remain the relevant authority and seek advice directly from a building certifier, or delegate its functions and powers to another body (i.e. the Council or staff).

How will this work in practice?

We anticipate that most, if not all, Panels will adopt ‘standing’ referrals to their Council for all applications for building consent. Under such an arrangement, the Council will become the relevant authority for building consent, with no further role or input from the Panel.

The role of Council staff under this approach would remain largely unchanged from their current role under the Development Act: the provision advice, as persons with “prescribed qualifications” to the Council.

Alternatively, a Panel could:

  • refer development applications for building consent to a member of Council staff who is a building certifier, or to a building certifier in private practice; or
  • delegate its powers and functions as the relevant authority for building consent to Council staff or private practitioners.

While Panels will not be required to refer or delegate applications for building consent, we do not envisage many Panels wishing to be involved in these decisions, and anticipate they would eagerly divest themselves of this role!

Further information

We are currently running workshop sessions for Councils exploring development assessment under the PDI Act and Regulations. Further details of this workshop can be found here (link to flyer). Please contact us for additional information, or to arrange a session for your Council.

For those who are interested in ‘tracing back’ the provisions in the PDI Act and PRI Regulations, they are relevantly:

  • What are the “prescribed qualifications”: Section 235(2) & Regulation 26.
  • Who is the “relevant authority” for building consent: Sections 93, 97 and 99 & Regulations 22 and 25.
  • Building certifier as a relevant authority: Section 86 & Regulation 25.
  • Assessment Panel as a relevant authority: Sections 99 and 100 & Regulation 26.
  • Classification of buildings: Sections 151 and 154 & Regulations 57 and 101-102.

9 September 2019



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