Approvals under Sections 176/178 Resource Management Act for works in NZTA designations

What is a designation?

A designation is a planning tool under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to protect land for an existing or proposed public work or project and to enable it to be built, used, and maintained. A designation is shown on the planning maps in the council’s district plan.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) is a ‘Requiring Authority’ which means it can designate land for its work and activities. NZTA has designations across New Zealand for state highways, rapid transit, cycleways, and shared paths. A designation may be on land already used for transport infrastructure, or it may be on land to be used in the future.

NZTA can carry out any work or activities in designated land if they’re consistent with the stated designation purpose.

Any other party who wishes to do work or activities in the designation, or in a proposed designation, requires written consent from NZTA if the activity would ‘prevent or hinder’ the designated work. This is a requirement of sections 176(1)(b) and 178(2) of the RMA.

Is my property subject to an existing NZTA designation?

You can find out whether your property is subject to an existing or proposed NZTA designation by:

  • looking at the planning maps of your local district or city council, or ask their planning staff; or
  • contacting our Environmental Planning team at

Does a designation restrict what I can do on my land?

The designation places a restriction on your land. You can continue to use the land as you currently are, but if you want to do any new work or activities in the designated area, or change the use of the land, you may need written consent from NZTA.

What activities require written consent from NZTA?

A written consent will be needed if your proposed work or activity will or might prevent or hinder the work authorised by the designation.

‘Prevent or hinder’ means something that would prevent the designated public work or project from being built or used as intended, or something that would make it more difficult to build or use.

Examples of work that would not need written consent from NZTA are:

  • painting and decorating
  • domestic garden improvement
  • repair of existing utility services.

Examples of work and activities that would likely need written consent from NZTA are:

  • new residential, commercial, industrial, horticultural, or agricultural buildings
  • work that requires a resource consent, building consent or other permit from the council
  • change in land use e.g. from residential to commercial
  • land subdivision.

(These are examples only, not exhaustive lists of activities that may or may not require written consent.)

If you’re planning to do any new work or activities in the designated area, or change the use of the land, you should contact us to discuss whether any written consent is needed from NZTA.

How do I apply for written consent from NZTA?

You can lodge an enquiry or request for written consent on-line using the application form:

Land use/state highway access application form

This will then be managed through our national system and follow a formal tracking and reporting process.

A request for written consent should include:

  • your contact details
  • site address and legal description
  • description and plan of the proposed work and activities, including any buildings, parking, site access, landscaping, and earthworks 
  • information on business operation if relevant, eg opening hours.

How will my request be assessed?

Once a request has been received, NZTA would consider things like:

  • the scope and construction timing of future NZTA work in the designation
  • whether your proposed work or activity would make existing or future building or use of the designated work more difficult
  • implications for any future land acquisition
  • the consequences for the landowner and for NZTA if approval was declined.

We will review how your proposal may affect existing or future NZTA work in the designation and if needed, we can look at options to avoid or reduce effects on the existing and future transport network.

If written consent is given, NZTA may place conditions on the work. For example, these might require that work is done in accordance with specific plans or within certain timeframes, require changes to proposed site layout or design, or might require that any structures are removed before NZTA carries out its own work in the designation. 

What can I do if my request is declined?

Requests for written consent may be declined in some circumstances. If this might occur, we will initially work with you to consider whether changes can be made to address our concerns. 

If the request is declined, or if written consent is given but you don’t agree with the conditions, you can appeal to the Environment Court.  The Court will then decide whether to confirm or reverse NZTA’s earlier decision.

If the designation impacts on your ability to sell or reasonably use your land, there are also legal provisions which may apply and require the Crown to lease or acquire your land in some circumstances.

Contact us

Contact the NZTA Environmental Planning team at for any further information.