21 Sep 2018

Options for removing the confusion in the District Plan about what building activity can occur in flood-prone coastal areas will be considered by Christchurch City Council next week.

“It is important we address this issue quickly so staff will be bringing a report to the Council recommending that we ask the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration to change the District Plan under section 71 of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act so that there is clarity over the planning rules and how they should be applied, Council Strategy and Transformation General Manager Brendan Anstiss says.

Several options have been considered, including:

  • Asking Cabinet to change the Order in Council so the Independent Hearings Panel can be reconvened to address the issue.
  • Promoting a local Bill through Parliament that would amend the District Plan.

“Using the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act is likely to be considerably faster than any of the other options so that is the option staff will be recommending to the Mayor and Councillors, Dr Anstiss says.

Read the report.

What’s the issue with the District Plan?

The District Plan seeks to avoid new building work in areas of the city where there is considered to be a high risk to people and property from the depth of a significant flood event. These areas are called High Flood Hazard Management areas.

Within those areas there are some pockets of residential land where the main contributor to this high flood risk is from future projected sea level rise.

The Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) appointed to make decisions on the District Plan decided that in those pockets, new residential building work could be allowed, on a discretionary basis, where the risk to people’s safety and property could be adequately mitigated. They have called this the Residential Unit Overlay because it only covers residential units, not subdivisions. 

The IHP did not amend the “avoidance policy, which has created confusion about what can and cannot be built in those areas.

How did the confusion arise?

When the Independent Hearings Panel released its decision on the High Flood Hazard Management Areas  known as Decision 53  it did not amend the “avoidance policy. It only made amendments to the rules and the maps. 

Who was responsible for writing the Independent Hearing Panel’s decision?

The Independent Hearings Panel Secretariat was responsible. Once the decision was released, it became operational and the Council’s role was to implement it as written.

How many properties are affected?

There are 1486 sites within the Residential Unit Overlay area. However, most of those sites have existing use rights for the repair and replacement of buildings. About 80 vacant sites are likely to be most affected. Most of them are in Southshore, south of Caspian Street (33) and in Redcliffs (23).

Has the confusion prevented people from building?

Council staff have been holding clinics to support people who want to build or develop properties in the affected areas. Since the new rules came into effect, 31 resource consents have been granted for new building work in these areas. Only one consent application has been declined and that was because it sought to subdivide the site.

How do I know if a property is within one of these areas?

You can use our District Plan property search. It will tell you which planning rules apply to a property and how that may impact your plans. If you still have questions you can call our Duty Planner on 03 941-8999 or email dutyplanner@ccc.govt.nz. We also have an online guide if you are looking to buy a home or land, develop a property or change its usage.