District Plan  |  4 Sep 2020

Christchurch City Council staff are proposing a revamp of the planning rules relating to how visitor short-term accommodation is managed in different areas of the district.

Earlier this year the Council invited the public to give feedback on five different options it was looking at to manage home-share accommodation – particularly Airbnb-type activity -- in the residential and rural zones of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

After considering almost 570 responses, staff are recommending the Council make changes to the Christchurch District Plan so it can more effectively manage the impacts of short-term accommodation on residential and rural areas.

The Council is also considering other methods, including an appropriate approach to rating properties used for short-term accommodation to “level the playing field” with other commercial accommodation providers. This is likely to be considered as part of the Long-Term Plan process.

The proposed plan change would introduce a new objective and several new policies that establish what types of visitor accommodation should occur in which zones and under what circumstances. Changes are also proposed to the rules and definitions.

Under the Proposed Plan Change, in most residential zones visitor accommodation in a house or unit, when a host is not in residence, would be a ‘Controlled activity’ if it was only being used for up to 60 nights a year. This means a resource consent would still be required, but the Council could not decline the application. It could only put conditions on the consent.

If the unit or house is being used as visitor accommodation for 61 to 180 nights of the year, it would be a ‘Discretionary activity’. This means a resource consent is required and the Council can consider any environmental effects including impacts on neighbours such as noise, traffic movements, access etc.

 If the unit is being used as visitor accommodation for more than 180 nights a year, it would be a ‘Non-complying activity’. This means a resource consent is required and Council can only grant the consent if the environmental effects will be minor or if it is not contrary to the District Plan’s objectives and policies.

In rural zones, visitor accommodation in a residential unit, when a host is not in residence, would be a permitted activity (no resource consent required) for up to 180 nights a year, subject to the operator keeping records and providing them to the Council. More than 180 nights a year would still require a resource consent.

A report on the Proposed Plan Change will be considered by the Council’s Urban Development and Transport Committee on Wednesday 9 September.

If the Committee decides to notify the Proposed Plan Change, there will be a period of public consultation from 24 September to 22 October.

A Hearings Panel, made up of independent commissioners, will consider the public submissions and prepare a report for the Council with a set of recommendations.

The Council will then have to decide whether to accept the Hearings Panel’s recommendations.

It is likely to be next year before a decision is made on the Proposed Plan Change. In the meantime, the current District Plan rules continue to have legal effect.