Planning for the future  |  25 Sep 2019

Christchurch City Council is raising concerns about a proposed “one-size-fits-all’’ approach towards urban development in New Zealand 

The Ministry for the Environment is currently seeking feedback on the Proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD), which provides direction to local authorities about when and how cities should plan for growth.

Under the NPS-UD Councils will be required to enable denser housing in certain areas close to public transport, commercial centres and the central city.

They will also have to allow consideration of urban development where land has not yet been zoned or has not previously been identified for urban development.

Christchurch City Council is worried the NPS-UD is likely to require intensification to a greater degree, and over much larger areas than allowed for in the current District Plan, without considering local priorities specific to Christchurch.

It is concerned that there is no demonstrable need for this amount of additional housing capacity and that such blunt measures to impose density could have significant adverse effects on local amenity for example, on the character of areas or their historic heritage.

In a strongly worded submission on the NPS-UD, it questions the one-size-fits-all approach to urban development, saying the objectives and policies do not take into account the different circumstances and priorities in each city.

“The Council strongly believes that a one-size-fits-all solution across New Zealand’s six major urban centres will not achieve the best outcome for our cities,’’ the Council’s submission says.

“The objectives and policies in the proposed NPS-UD appears to be an approach that is better suited for cities that have an identified housing shortage, such as Auckland.’’

The submission says Christchurch does not have a housing capacity issue but it does have other important, localised issues such as regeneration of the central city, a need to restrict greenfield expansion to reduce transport costs, and mitigating the effects of natural hazards and climate change.

“Any national policy direction that facilities significant unplanned and dispersed growth outside the central city may undermine not only our priority earthquake recovery objectives, but the significant public and private investment in the central city to date,’’ the Council’s submission says.

Read the Council’s full submission.

Members of the public can also make submissions on the NPS-UD. The deadline for submissions is 10 October 2019.