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Housing Intensification – Not for Everyone Says CCC

By Anna Bensemann, Senior Planner, Baseline Group | Sep 28, 2022

Christchurch City Council (CCC) recently voted against notifying a plan change to give effect to the Government Housing Intensification legislation. The decision was made by Councillors not to notify the proposed plan change, which would have given effect to the Housing and Business Choice Plan Change (Plan Change 14). Council had originally sought an extension to notifying the new rules until 23 September after having missed the August deadline due to covid and staff shortages.

Selwyn District, along with most other local authorities in New Zealand, was notified of new rules in August to meet its obligations under the intensification plan. Provisions notified under this legislation have immediate legal effect and allow for up to three dwellings per property in specified urban areas; in the case of the Selwyn District this is the Rolleston, Lincoln and Prebbleton urban areas.

CCC, who has a history of dragging the chain when it comes to progressing plan changes to enable development, such as the post earthquake district plan process, may find the central Government steps in again and takes over. This could mean Commissioners notify a plan change for the city and impose the outcomes into the District Plan. Post-earthquakes, something similar occurred in Christchurch City with a plan change process that did not allow for any appeals to the Environment Court once decisions were made.

If CCC are not forced to provide for intensification in the city by the Government, it may mean Selwyn urban areas come under greater development pressures at a pace that outstrips development in the City. People are more likely to build to greater densities in Selwyn if the planning provisions are more permissive. The intention of the intensification legislation imposed by Government was to progress all urban areas at the same pace. This would have the effect of enabling intensification in all urban centres, rather than creating inequalities in planning permissions between local authority areas.

Any intensification in Selwyn puts additional pressure on existing urban infrastructure including water supply, and sewer disposal. In most cases, the development, upgrade and extension of infrastructure is funded by developers, particularly where large greenfield land areas are being converted to new urban suburbs. Nevertheless, big picture infrastructure solutions will require some careful consideration sooner than could have been anticipated 10 or 20 years ago. This may require land purchase or acquisitions to provide space for infrastructure solutions to accommodate water supply, stormwater and sewer solutions for intensified development areas.

So, while we wait to see how Government deals with CCC’s decision not to provide for intensification within the City limits, Selwyn residents have the benefit of the intensification legislation at their disposal now. To fully understand how the new intensification provisions affect you and the use of your land, speak to your local planning and land development professionals.

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