2 Sep 2022

Christchurch’s planning rules will change significantly this month as District Plan changes enabling more housing and development in the city come into effect to comply with government direction.

New Government-mandated Medium Density Residential Standards are part of the Draft Housing and Business Choice Plan Change that Christchurch City Council staff will be recommending the Council notify for submissions in September.

Notification of the Housing and Business Choice Plan Change, along with the companion Heritage Plan Change, were originally expected to happen in August, but was delayed for a month due to high levels of staff illness.

Both Plan Changes are about preparing Christchurch for future growth. Waimakariri District Council and Selwyn District Council are also making changes to their district plans to comply with the government direction.

Council Head of Planning and Consents John Higgins says while there has been some feedback from the community with concerns about notifying the plan changes, the Council was legally required to make changes to its District Plan to implement government legislation.

 “Notification of the Housing and Business Choice Plan Change will see new Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) take effect unless they are restricted by a Qualifying Matter.”

The MDRS enables up to three homes, up to 12 metres high (generally three storeys) to be built on a section in most residential areas of the city, without resource consent.

“MDRS is not optional and the legislation requires that it take legal effect when the Plan Change is notified,’’ Mr Higgins says.

“However, people will be able to make submissions on our plan changes including proposals to enable even greater building development than MDRS near commercial centres. They will also be able to make submissions on areas where development should be restricted because of Qualifying Matters, such as heritage and character.”

Amendments made to earlier drafts

Some amendments have already been made to the draft Plan Changes in response to the initial community feedback provided earlier this year through pre-notification consultation.

Those amendments include:

  • Creating three more Character Areas, in Roker Street (Spreydon), Ryan Street (Linwood) and Bewdley Street and Evesham Crescent (Barrington);
  • Introducing a requirement for resource consent for sites in some zones adjoining the 11 proposed Residential Heritage Areas, to better protect their edges. These areas and rules are new to the District Plan;
  • Introducing a 90 metre building height limit for the Central City, except for the Victoria Street commercial area and sites around Whiti-reia-Cathedral Square which are proposed to have a height limit of 45 metres. The Arts Centre and New Regent Street are also proposed to have lower height limits due to their special heritage characteristics.
  • Updating the setback extent for trees to better protect them.
  • A 2 metre increase in height allowed for commercial development in the Riccarton, Papanui and Hornby centres (totalling 22m in height).
  • The addition of five new heritage places to the District Plan’s Schedule of Significant Historic Heritage for protection. The places are Carlton Mill Bridge and Hereford Street Bridge; 16 Papanui memorial avenues (trees and plaques); the former Tuberculosis hut on the site of former Cashmere Sanatorium and the former caretaker’s cottage at Woodham Park.
  • A reduction in the residential area proposed for up to 10 storeys so that it is mainly concentrated around the core business area of the Central City.
  • Application of the revised Airport Noise Contour as a Qualifying Matter, affecting a greater area than the current contour;
  • Updated the extent of the area identified at risk of coastal hazards as a Qualifying Matter to only be those areas with a Medium or High risk;
  • Further refinement of residential and commercial zone rules;
  • Removal of a Qualifying Matter that applied to sites adjoining State Highways; and
  • Removal of Financial Contributions for vacant greenfield areas and from Crown development.

 “We have listened to the community where we can, within the bounds of the legislation and while still meeting the high evidence threshold required. We have also further tested some of our evidence base and made amendments where required,” Mr Higgins says.

If the Council gives its approval at the 8 September Council meeting, the Plan Changes will be publicly notified on Friday 23 September 2022 and will go out for formal consultation the same day.

Read more about our proposed changes in the report going to the 8 September Council meeting.