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Housing Growth continues in Selwyn with Legislative Support

By Anna Bensemann, Senior Planner, Baseline Group | Jan 21, 2022

Selwyn District has long been known as one of New Zealand’s most rapidly growing districts, and this does not appear to be changing.

Increasing demand for new residential sections has seen the Council receiving multiple private plan changes seeking to rezone rural land available for residential use and record numbers of resource and building consents. This has resulted in significant growth around Prebbleton, Lincoln, Rolleston, Darfield and Leeston among other areas.

In addition to private plan changes, Council released a proposed district plan last year, aimed at consolidating its 70+ residential zones to streamline the resource consenting process with a simplified plan. This plan change has been notified with parties making submission and further submissions, and some hearings already held.

In response to a national shortage in affordable housing, government released a draft amendment to the Resource Management Act (RMA) known as the Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters Bill in late 2021. This was quickly moved through government process and given royal assent in late 2021, effectively becoming law. The RMA amendment requires Councils to amend plans allowing for greater intensification within existing qualifying urban areas.

For the Selwyn District this means some of the planning provisions contained in private plan changes and the Proposed Selwyn District Plan may be required to change to give effect to the RMA amendments and may see greater density development in the centre of existing townships.

Intensification of urban areas raises issues of infrastructure capacity, namely supply for water, disposal of wastewater and stormwater which are all managed by Council. These issues will require some quick-thinking solutions to enable the RMA amendments to have a genuine effect on housing supply shortages. In some places the major limiting factor to intensification will be the ability to service development with demands on infrastructure potentially exceeding the design capacity of the systems.

The RMA amendments will allow for more buildings, and greater densities that may not have been anticipated by the residents in the townships. This may create amenity issues where one site is developed more intensively while neighbouring sites remain as a single dwelling with large yard areas. Unintended consequences of the RMA amendments such as reduced privacy and amenity values, or increased shading of neighbouring properties will now need to be incorporated into the proposed District Plan.

As a result of the RMA amendments Selwyn District Council will have to revise parts of the proposed district plan to align with the new National direction. All Councils have until August this year to notify the proposed changes to be incorporated into District Plans. Any changes are afforded an accelerated legislative process under the RMA amendment to ensure opportunities for development become available swiftly. Despite this, it is likely to be some time before we see significant changes to Selwyn’s urban areas as a result of the Bill, and greenfield development in the traditional manner will continue to dominate housing supply in the short term.

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