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Home Based Businesses

Running a business from home is termed a ‘home-based business’ 

The City Plan describes what a home-based business is considered to be, and lets you know what you need to consider when running a business from home.

City Plan Definition

Home-based business – An occupation, craft, business or activity that is clearly incidental to the permitted residential use of a site and is conducted on a repetitive basis for commercial gain, and includes premises used for the purpose of home based childcare.

City Plan Zones

 Under the City Plan, a Home-based business can be operated within most Residential Zones  (except the Ngati Kahu Papakainga Sub-Zone B), and all Rural Zones  and in the Rural Residential Zone.

Residential Zones

Rural Zones

Rural Residential Zone

Permitted Activity Conditions

Within each City Plan Zone there is a list of criteria which must be met for an activity to be conducted on a permitted basis.

  • For the Suburban Residential Zone, refer Chapter 14 - particularly Rule 14B.3.12. 
  • For the Rural Residential Zone, refer Chapter 15 – particularly Rule 15A.3.9. 
  • For the Rural Zone, refer Chapter 16 – particularly Rule 16A.8.8. 

If you meet the criteria as set out, you may be able to run your business from home on an ‘as of right’ basis.

Brief Information Guidelines

 For specific wording, you will need to refer to City Plan Chapters as detailed above, as these are subject to change

  • Every home-based business or combination of home-based business activities may employ not more than two other persons (Full Time Equivalent (FTE)) additional to the members of the household who permanently reside on the site and who own and operate the business from the site.
  • That activity shall be carried out either within a dwelling, an accessory building, or in an outdoor activity area clearly designed and constructed for the purpose of the business or businesses, or a combination of these areas. 
  • The maximum total gross area used, including retail sales space, shall be 50m2
  • The activity, including any aspect of the activity undertaken in an outdoor activity area, shall not encroach on the setback or streetscape requirements. 
  • Retail sales from a home-based business shall be limited to those goods and materials produced by the home-based business or used in the direct operation and management of that business. Retail sales shall take place from within a building or structure on the same site and the area occupied for retail sales shall be a constituent part of the gross area of the activity.

Other Considerations 

  • Signage

Signage provisions are contained in Chapter 4 of the City Plan  

In Residential Zones (excluding Ngati Kahu Sub Zones), Rural-Residential Zone and Rural Zones 
For a freestanding sign, including structures used to support it:

1 per site; maximum height 4m; maximum sign area 1m2; located anywhere within the site (when a sign is not a building)

For signs serving a residential activity and attached to a building:
1 per site; maximum sign area per site 0.5m2 

For signs serving a non-residential activity and attached to a building:
1 per site; maximum sign area 2m2

NOTE – Signage on residential sites may only relate to the activities located on that site. There are restrictions on signage which is illuminated or animated – refer Rule 4D.2.3.2 

  • Carparking

Carparking provisions are contained in Chapter 4 of the City Plan 

Residents: 2 spaces per unit
Visitors: 1 additional space

  • Noise

Noise provisions are contained in Chapter 4 of the City Plan 

Noise from the home-based business shall not exceed the following noise levels within the boundary of any other site

Daytime: 50 dBA Leq
Night-time: 40 dBA Leq and 70 dBA Lmax 

You will also need to comply with all other Permitted Activity Conditions around building height, streetscene, space about buildings, overshadowing, exterior lighting and glare, traffic management/movements (there may be the requirement for onsite manoeuvring). Depending on your type of business you may also need to discuss your proposal with Council’s Environmental Health team.

You may be required to provide information on other matters to do with your site or location relating to: natural hazards (coastal or flood hazard); consultation (Tangata Whenua); agencies (NZ Transport Authority or Bay of Plenty Regional Council).

What to do now?

If you satisfy all the permitted activity conditions, you may be able to establish and operate your home-based business on an ‘as of right’ basis. For formal confirmation, you can apply to the Council for a Certificate of Compliance.
If you do not meet one or more of the permitted activity conditions, before establishing you need to apply to the Council, and be granted a resource consent for a Non-Complying Activity.

If you are not sure of what you are doing or why, you can ask questions and obtain information from the Council about the resource consent process. You can prepare an application yourself, however it is often advisable to engage the services of a Professional Planning Consultant to prepare and submit your application to Council.

The application form for resource consent, information requirements and the current fees schedule  (page 194) which is updated annually, is available from the Council website.

Resource consent application form (384kb pdf)

 Fees schedule (2.6mb pdf)

How do I prepare and submit my application?

Though not compulsory, it is recommended that you request a pre-application meeting with planning staff. They can help you by checking that everything is in order before you formally lodge your application.

To formally lodge your application, you must request a Lodgement Meeting via Council’s Environmental Planning Consents Technicians who ensure the appropriate staff attend.

Pre-application meeting request form (95kb pdf)

How long will the Council take to make a decision?

The statutory timeframe for resource consents of this nature or Certificate of Compliance applications is 20 working days. This timeframe will depend on whether:

  • your application is considered complete 
  • any further information is required during the processing phase, and 
  • your application is able to proceed on a non-notified basis.

If your application is affected by any of these criteria, the processing ‘clock’ will stop. If your application is considered to be incomplete, it will be returned to you within five working days.

If you’re not sure – please ask our Customer Service staff or the Duty Planner in the first instance:

Visit us at – 91 Willow Street in the central city Phone us on 07-5777000
Fax us on 07-5777206 Email us at

Don’t forget to check what other consents or permissions you may be required to obtain from the Council, for example building consent.

Fact sheet - what you need to know about running a home based business (182 kb pdf)

Last Reviewed: 15/03/2017