Consultation on proposed changes to Christchurch’s planning rulebook for housing and business growth – the District Plan – may get the go-ahead next week.

Christchurch City Council will consider notifying its Housing and Business Choice Plan Change (Plan Change 14) and Heritage Plan Change (Plan Change 13) at its meeting on 1 March. If approved, public consultation on both plan changes will open from 17 March and run until 3 May.

Plan Change 14 has been designed to bring the city’s District Plan in line with the Government’s new national standards to encourage multi-housing developments, called the Medium-Density Residential Standards (MDRS).

When the MDRS take effect, up to three dwellings of up to three storeys will be able to be developed on a property in Christchurch without needing to apply for a resource consent, as long as all other rules have been met.

Council Head of Planning and Consents John Higgins says the Government’s new standards are aimed at making it easier for multi-housing developments to happen in the country’s main urban areas, but they are not necessarily suitable for all areas.

“Under normal circumstances the MDRS would come into effect for most of Christchurch from the plan change’s notification date of 17 March. However, they won’t actually come into effect here until March 2024, when final decisions are made on the plan changes.

“That’s because we’ve proposed a special city-wide restriction, called a qualifying matter, to achieve greater sunlight access for homes, which affects any new developments under the new standards. Until that qualifying matter is decided on, as well as others we’re proposing for different parts of the city, the MDRS can’t take effect yet.”

Mr Higgins says it is important people have their say once the proposed plan changes are formally notified.

“We’ve listened and incorporated a lot of public feedback since the pre-notification consultation last year, and the newly proposed plan changes respond to that feedback.

“While the MDRS are a legal requirement and have to take effect, people can make submissions on our proposals to allow even greater building development than the MDRS in and around commercial centres.

“They can also make submissions on areas where development should be limited in the city because of qualifying matters, such as areas of heritage and character value.

“It’s important people have their say on the plans for Christchurch’s future growth. Making a submission also means you have the opportunity to stay in the conversation and present to a hearings panel later on in the process.”

As part of its Housing and Business Choice Plan Change, the Council is proposing to increase heights and densities of development within and around the city centre, suburban commercial centres, and residential areas, particularly around core bus routes. It is also proposing the re-zoning of some industrial areas within a walkable distance of the city centre and some of our suburban centres.

Under its Heritage Plan Change, it has identified 11 new Residential Heritage Areas that should be protected for their heritage values and added 44 buildings and items, and 26 building interiors, to the Schedule of Significant Historic Heritage.

Read the Council report.