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Land Development opportunities and times of change

By Lisa Perry, Planner, Baseline Group, Christchurch Ph 0800 257 123 | Apr 30, 2024
Land development

The one constant we can rely on is change and Selwyn has experienced some significant changes in the past 10 years, most notably, population growth and urban land development. Based on current trends, the Selwyn District is the fastest growing district in the country. More residential land development is needed. The question is, where.

How have changes to the Resource Management Act impacted land development?

2021 to 2023 has seen some significant changes in resource management. In 2021, Central Government introduced the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 (the Amendment Act). The Amendment Act requires specified local authorities to incorporate Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) into every relevant residential zone in their District Plan, which the Selwyn District Council (SDC) has done.

In 2022 Central Government introduced the National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL), which seeks to provide direction to improve the way highly productive land is managed under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), i.e., protecting good growing land from inappropriate use and development. Selwyn has abundant good growing land, which puts them in a potentially tricky position with pressure to expand urban areas and constraints on what land can be developed.

How have changes to District Plans impacted land development?

2023 saw a change in government and a shift from building up and intensifying urban land development to building out with Central Government’s announcement of their intent to allow Councils to zone 30 years of residential land instead of including the MDRS in their City or District Plans. 2023 also saw Selwyn’s Proposed District Plan come into effect as the new Partially Operative District Plan, which has taken years to develop and millions to put in place. Although it is not fully operative (some parts of the Plan have been challenged and are subject to appeal) it has significant legal weight and provides direction for resource management in Selwyn with new Rules, Objectives and Policies. It comes as no surprise then that landowners may be uncertain what the development constraints and opportunities are for their land development.

Needing help with your land development plans?

If you are uncertain about your next step with land development, seek preliminary advice from Council on your proposal. Selwyn District Council has a knowledgeable and responsive duty planning team who can answer planning related questions. Email:

If your application is complex or large, you can request a pre-application meeting. Pre-application meetings are an opportunity to present your proposal, receive feedback about what you may need to consider, and identify stakeholders or affected parties. There is no charge for the initial meeting because pre-application meetings benefit all parties.

The best time for land development is now. Although the future holds uncertainty and change is inevitable, the rules as they exist now are certain.

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