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Make Your Additional Land Profitable Under the Selwyn Proposed Plan

By Rose Leighton, Planner, Baseline Group | Mar 08, 2023

With the rise of Airbnb in recent years there is an opportunity for residents of Selwyn to benefit by developing underutilised areas of their sections with self-contained accommodation units. However, visitor accommodation in small-scale standalone units, as promoted through Airbnb, is a recent endeavour. The district planning provisions for this style of visitor accommodation are not well provided for under the Operative District Plan. Despite this, if you are looking into jumping on Airbnb bandwagon, the good news is that it’s only a matter of time before this process becomes not only easier, but permissible under proposed planning provisions.

The currently Operative District Plan only allows second dwellings on a site to be used as a family flat, which can be up to 70 m 2 in gross floor area. The definition of family flat is clear that this additional unit is intended to be occupied by a member of the same immediate family as a person residing in the main dwelling on site. The definition of residential activity includes accommodation offered to not more than five guests for reward or payment, where the owner resides on site, meaning guests need to be located within a person’s house to comply. Resultantly, stand-alone self-contained visitor accommodation is pigeonholed as a ‘second residential unit’ under the Operative District Plan.

Therefore, for a typical residential or rural section held within single ownership (not subdivided) that does not meet the land area requirements per dwelling, trying to get consent for a ‘second residential unit’ to use for visitor accommodation is difficult. In most cases, under the Operative District Plan visitor accommodation falls into being a non-complying activity, creating a more intensive and restrictive consenting process.

This planning framework has likely dissuaded visitor accommodation development with Selwyn, despite the popularity of Airbnb in recent years. There is currently a missed opportunity for residents of the Selwyn district to make use of excess land area for economic gain. The Proposed Selwyn District Plan (the Proposed Plan) has picked up on this deficiency and included provisions for visitor accommodation.

Visitor accommodation is identified in most zones of the Proposed Plan as a permitted activity, provided the accommodation is offered to no more than five guest for reward or payment at any one time. This, along with complying with the applicable built form standards, enables visitor accommodation as a permitted activity. If more than 5 guests are catered for or built form standards are not met, then a resource consent will be required. Such a consent is proposed to be less stringent than the non-complying status under the Operative District Plan.

Council anticipates releasing decisions on the Proposed Plan around 23 August 2023, and the Proposed Plan will become operative soon after, subject to environment court appeals. Once operative, the provisions relating to visitor accommodation will apply. Get in contact with a planning consultant today to start planning your future economic endeavour into the Airbnb market.

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