Plenty of planning red tape to wrap up Christchurch 

September 2023

We took a deep dive into Christchurch City Council's proposed intensification blueprint Our proposed Housing and Business Choice Plan Change (PC14). Relaxing of development controls is on the table, but plenty of red tape also.

Almost 45% of the city has been frozen in time, with qualifying matters to limit nationally consistent housing density standards.

A controversial qualifying matter blanketing the entire city is the sunlight access qualifying matter, which means you can't build as high or as close to a site boundary as the rest of New Zealand's Tier 1 urban centres. The Council considers that it's not fair Auckland gets more sun days under default height in relation to boundary standards. 

The Council's reasons point out that Christchurch is at a lower latitude, so the sun is lower in the sky especially at the Spring and Autumn Equinox. Interestingly, Selwyn is further south and they've opted to go with the default standards.

An intensification wind back is also on the table for city centre residential areas (think of the 4-avenues) with building coverage less enabling than the current rules implemented during the earthquake recovery.

It's not all doom and gloom for developers. There are some density wins allowing taller building heights, greater building coverage, and more compact outdoor living space for studios and 1-bed dwellings in higher density zones.

The Independent Hearing Panel (IHP) will have a challenging job to consider whether PC14 adequately implements national level urban policy direction and the nationally consistent Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS).

We're particularly keen to see how "fairness" with Auckland's urban shading has a role in effects-based management.

Developers keen to use the MDRS transitional provisions to permit 3 dwellings, up to 3-storeys immediately, will have to wait quite a bit longer thanks to the proposed sunlight access overlay; decisions on this need to be made first. 

Operative District Plan housing rules linger on... 

Hearings on PC14 commence later in 2023 with decisions expected mid-2024. This is on top of the extra 9 months Council took to notify the plan change (the deadline required by the Resource Management Act (RMA) was August 2022). 

Council can either accept the recommendations of the IHP or the Minister for the Environment will decide the new housing intensification rules. There are no appeal rights under the streamlined process other than judicial review.

If you would like help navigating the changing housing intensification planning rules, please get in touch .

Get planning with Ity, today.