FAQ - Planning and Consents

1. What does this mean for the CCC’s District Plan?

The Recovery Plan directs a number of changes to CCC’s District Plan. Two new central city zones (a Central City Business Zone and a Central City Mixed Use Zone) have been established to manage the use and development of land in the CBD. These new zones complement the existing living, cultural and special purpose zones within the city. The aim of the new zones is to enable business to re-establish while ensuring a mix of complementary uses in a high quality environment.

2. Will my land still be in the same zone?

It may not be. The zoning maps incorporated within the changes to the District Plan show the new zoning for all land within the central city. For many areas of land, no change in zoning occurs. For some areas, there is change from the old Central City Zone to the new Central City Business Zone. This zone is generally more permissive than its predecessor. In some areas there will be a change from Central City to Mixed Use Zone. This places some restrictions on the land, principally around the development of retail and office space.

3. What does the change in zoning mean?

The zone changes mean that new development and uses will have to comply with the new provisions from 7 August 2012. People with land in the Central City Business zone will be able to undertake the same sorts of activities as previously but may find that there are some different development standards around those activities. For example, new height limits apply to buildings in the central city. These standards are set out in detail in the zone provisions in Appendix 1 to the Recovery Plan, which details the changes to the District Plan and will ultimately be integrated into the online version of the District Plan. In the Mixed Use Zone some restrictions have been put in place around office development (only offices under 450m2 are permitted) and retail development.

4. Can I carry on with my business if my zoning has changed?

Buildings and activities currently in the central city are able to continue operating under their previous consents. However, new developments will be required to comply with the new provisions.

5. Can I appeal if I don't like the new zoning or the new rules?

No. The new District Plan provisions have immediate effect and there is no right of appeal to the Environment Court.

6. Can the CCC change these new Plan provisions if it doesn’t like them?

No. When changes have been made to the District Plan via the direction set out in the Recovery Plan, further changes can only be made with the agreement of the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.

7. Can I rebuild my building as it was before?

There are provisions in the Resource Management Act (RMA) relating to existing use rights which will continue to apply. If you are able to meet the tests in the RMA you can rely on your existing use rights. You may request that CCC issues you a certificate indicating that you hold an existing use right.

8. What about the grandparenting rule proposed by the CCC which would have allowed me to continue with the designs/proposals I already had in place?

The changes to the District Plan from the approved Christchurch Central Recovery Plan do not contain a grandparenting rule. The RMA existing use rights provisions may be applicable to some land uses.

9. Is there a height limit and what is it?

There is a height limit in the Central City Business Zone of 28m in the Core, 17m in the Victoria Street Gateway and 17m in the Mixed Use Zone. This equates to around 7 storeys in the 28m areas and 4 storeys in the 17m areas. These heights were set taking into account environmental effects such as wind tunnelling and shade, as well as economic implications. In circumstances where a higher building is proposed, an application for resource consent can be lodged with the CCC.

10. Will hotels have a different height limit?

No. Because the built form has similar effects irrespective of the use, hotels will be subject to the same plan provisions as other buildings. If hotels or anyone else wish to build to a higher level they can apply for resource consent.

11. What is happening about urban design?

Ensuring a high quality built form is an important component of the Recovery Plan and amended District Plan provisions. To safeguard the investment of all landowners, including local and central government, buildings within the core will be subject to a streamlined urban design consenting process. This consenting process will be administered by the Council but the decision will be delegated to a board comprising representatives of Council, CERA and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. Decisions will be provided within five working days from the date a completed application is lodged.

12. Will people still be able to drive and park in the central city?

Yes. It is recognised that easy access, plenty of parking and an enjoyable environment to walk around are all important aspects of rebuilding the central city. New on-site car parking standards have been applied allowing up to 50% of a building’s leasable premises to consist of car parking. This is generous and is in excess of what most modern buildings have previously provided. Some of the existing car parking buildings will remain and new ones will be established. A new road hierarchy will be modelled and implemented. This will take into account both urban design considerations and the efficient functioning of the transport network.

13. Are there restrictions on what can happen outside the central city?

No changes have been made to provisions covering development outside of the central city. There are already some policies in the District Plan regarding the effects of suburban development on the central city and these remain but have not been strengthened. It is considered that the Recovery Plan – which includes a blueprint plan and identifies anchor and other projects in the central city – creates a compelling case for reinvestment without needing to restrict development elsewhere.

14. How will comprehensive retail development be addressed quickly and why has it not already been addressed in the Recovery Plan?

The Recovery Plan through amendments to the CCC District Plan sets the appropriate zoning and regulatory framework for a rebuild of the Retail Precinct. The Government is looking at the best means to support this redevelopment through comprehensive retail development (whilst letting those landowners who are ready to make a move develop now provided they have a sufficiently large area to ensure a good outcome).
CERA is committed to working collaboratively with property owners to ensure the best outcome for the retail precinct.

15. Why is the government getting involved in comprehensive retail development?

The amendments to the CCC District Plan enable landowners to continue with their development plans provided they obtain the necessary approval of an Outline Development Plan from the CCC. For many landowners their current plans will already show the matters required by an Outline Development Plan, for example, the location of car parking, the provision of open space, and pedestrian connections through blocks. For some proposals there may be a requirement to revisit plans to get a more comprehensive outcome.

16. Given the size of most land holdings the rule is essentially a moratorium on most or maybe all but one party in the precinct. Is this appropriate?

The amendments to the District Plan rules enable the development of smaller sites, provided they are integrated with a larger area or areas adding to at least 7500m2. This is to ensure integrated development occurs over a sensible area (at least a third of a block).

17. What about residential activities?

Residential development is permitted throughout the central city including in the Business and Mixed Use Zones. In the Living Zones a wide range of residential options are enabled. These zones will also be the subject of a more comprehensive review by CERA and the CCC after the Recovery Plan is released to determine whether they can be rationalised and streamlined to ensure high quality outcomes in a simple and easy to navigate framework.

18. Do I go to CERA or CCC if I need a consent?

CCC remains the consenting authority and all applications for consent should be directed to the Council. In some circumstances, such as with respect to urban design matters within the Core, the Council's decision-making authority will be delegated to a board comprising of representatives from Council, CERA and Te Rünanga o Ngāi Tahu.

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