15.1 Certain structures owned or controlled by network utility operators or similar

Network utility

A building consent is usually not required for motorway signs, stopbanks, culverts and other simple structures controlled by network utility operators and similar organisations.

The purpose of this exemption is to allow building work on certain infrastructure to be carried out.

In many cases, this building work is located on public land and it often crosses territorial authority boundaries.

This type of building work is usually designed, constructed, maintained and supervised by professionals within the industry and/or government agencies known as network utility operators (NUOs).

What is exempt

  1. A new motorway off-ramp has been built and it is proposed to put up a motorway sign to direct vehicles. As the sign is owned by an organisation similar to an NUO, it will not require a building consent.
  2. A NUO proposes to build a culvert under a road to alleviate local flooding during heavy rainfall.

What needs consent

  1. A NUO proposes to build a new office for employees at its sewerage treatment plant. This office would not be considered a simple structure and requires a building consent.

What the law says

29. Certain structures owned or controlled by network utility operators or other similar organisations

1. Building work in connection with a motorway sign, stopbank, culvert for carrying water under or in association with a road, or other similar structure that is:

(a). a simple structure; and

(b). owned or controlled by a network utility operator or other similar organisation


This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: