The Christchurch City Council (CCC) has released a consultation document on its Draft Housing and Business Choice Plan Change (Draft Change). The Draft Change is the CCC response to the statutory requirements under the National Policy Statement for Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act (the EHS Act). It is being considered along with additional plan changes that are aimed at better providing for future growth in respect of Heritage Areas, Coastal Hazards and Radio Communications Pathways.

The Draft Change rezones much of Christchurch’s current residential zoned land to medium density, which enables up to three homes, up to 12 metres high, on a single property, without resource consent. The minimum lot size for subdividing vacant land is 400m2 with no minimum lot size around existing or consented dwellings. Other standards including recession planes, setbacks and outdoor living space have been amended in line with the EHS Act. If a consent is required (such as for four or more units) no neighbours’ approvals or notification is needed, if the standards are met.

These changes are unlikely to alter as they are guided by the EHS Act.

The Draft Change also proposes a high density residential zone to be located around the city centre and suburban commercial centres (Hornby, Riccarton and Papanui). Subdivision down to 300m2 for vacant sites, with no minimum around an existing or planned house, is to be enabled. No resource consent would be required for housing up to 14m in height, again subject to recession plane and setback standards. The standards would also allow 50% site coverage, while requiring 20m2 outdoor living at the ground floor, 20% grass or canopy coverage and compliance with other new standards including fencing standards.

Commercial areas would also provide for greater building heights depending on the centre type. From 12 metres in a neighbourhood or local centres, to 14 metres – larger local, and 20 metres – significant local, town centres and emerging metropolitan areas, with no height limit for the City Centre.

Other requirements in the central city mixed use, commercial mixed use and Industrial zones are also proposed to promote “housing variety, quality design and low emissions living”. Height increases matching surrounding residential and commercial changes are also proposed.

However, changes in intensification are considered unsuitable in some areas for a variety of reasons (qualifying matters). These include the presence of matters of national importance, nationally important infrastructure, heritage and public open space. The extent of development restrictions will depend on the relevant qualifying matter. While ‘other matters’ can also be considered, sufficient evidence justifying any restrictions is required.

The CCC intends to include character (or heritage) areas, significant trees, vacuum sewer constraint areas, coastal hazard areas, 400v power line setbacks, Lyttelton Port’s city depot, and radio communications pathways, as qualifying matters under the Draft Change. Details of the proposals for heritage areas and significant trees are included in the CCC consultation document.

A period for feedback is now open and closes on 13 May. The feedback may lead to amendments to the Draft Change, which must be notified by 20 August 2022. The medium density zone changes will have legal effect from that date, while hearings on the Draft Change are expected to occur in 2023.

If you have any queries about the proposed changes, or would like assistance with providing feedback or preparing a submission on the Draft Change, please contact Cavell Leitch’s Resource Management Team.