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Change isn't coming, it's here!

By Sally Elford, Senior Planner Baseline Group Email | Sept 22, 2022

You may have read or heard about the amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) with respect to enabling housing intensification. The amendments required certain Councils to adopt the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) into their District Plans. In Canterbury, this includes Selwyn District, Waimakariri District and Christchurch City Councils.

Selwyn District Council is also in the process of updating their old District Plan, with a new Proposed District Plan, which was notified 5 October 2020, for which hearings are underway. With the changes mandated by the RMA amendment, Selwyn has had to pivot the Proposed District Plan currently under development to incorporate the requirements of the Government's directions. This meant Selwyn had to create and notify a new residential zone. This was done so through Variation 1 to the Proposed District Plan on the 20th of August 2022.

Variation 1 introduces a new Medium Density Residential zone applied to relevant residential zoned land in the townships of Lincoln, Rolleston and Prebbleton. Unlike the typical plan change process, while these provisions have been notified for consultation, they are immediately operative and have legal effects. This means you can use the new rules right now for land development projects. The only exclusions to the immediate operation of the new Medium Density Residential zone if certain Qualifying Matters have been identified.

The Medium Density Residential zone allows for greater density in the existing townships of Lincoln, Prebbleton and Rolleston – replacing the previously proposed General Residential Zone. This means you will be able to build more houses on each section, cover more of the sites with buildings (up to 50%) and able to build three stories in many areas. It is important to note any areas previously identified as large lot residential (i.e. Living 3 or Living 2A) will remain in the new Large Lot Residential Zone in the Proposed District Plan.

Along with the creation of the new Medium Density Residential zone, the Proposed District Plan has also incorporated changes to the subdivision standards. The new minimum allotment size required in the Medium Density Residential zone within the townships of Lincoln, Rolleston and Prebbleton is 400 m².

This may provide an opportunity for land owners in these townships to downsize - by either subdividing to create a vacant allotment or building your dream home out the back, selling your existing one or keeping it for a rental or having the kids and grandkids close to home. While it will enable greater development, trends have shown there is little appetite for multi-unit type living in the Selwyn District and it is likely the demand for stand alone houses on stand alone titles will continue.

If you would like to look at options for the subdivision of your site or options for building a second dwelling with or without a subdivision, talk to a planning consultant today. Change in the planning rules is here already.

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