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Spotlight on District Plan Provisions

By Anna Bensemann | Sept 14, 2021

The Proposed Selwyn District Plan includes a number of residential zones including the Large Lot Residential Zone, which has a minimum allotment size of 3000 m². This zone is proposed on the edge of townships to provide a buffer between intensive residential activities and the General Rural Zone. There are large areas around Darfield, Kirwee and West Melton and smaller areas on the periphery of Prebbleton, Lincoln, Leeston, Dunsandel, Southbridge and Rolleston.

The proposed rules are designed to be more consistent and include the usual suspects when it comes to ensuring that you don’t upset the neighbourhood. This includes a maximum building coverage of less than either 500 m² or 20% of the site in question. There are height limits of eight metres, and recession planes apply along boundaries to ensure that buildings fit within a building envelope within the site. These features avoid a site appearing cluttered or having buildings located close to neighbours creating shading or overlook effects. No one wants a massive three-storied house on their boundary looking into their yard.

More interestingly, however, the proposed rules specify boundary setbacks and fencing requirements with the boundary setbacks. Within 10 m of a road boundary or shared access boundary and with 5 m of an internal boundary with a neighbour, fences are only permitted to be 1.2 m in height and must be 50% visually permeable (so trellis, picket fencing or other similar see-through options). Keeping in mind that a hedge meets the definition of a fence, this raises some questions as to what the Council expect to see around the periphery of properties other than open grassed areas.

Fencing in these setback areas are also required to be either post and rail or post and wire fencing along road boundaries, and post and rail, post and wire, tennis court or swimming pool fencing along internal boundaries.

These rules will apply to any new properties and may technically apply whenever you remove a fence to replace it, consistent with existing use rights under the RMA. The patterns of development potentially resulting from these rules is either larger fences located within properties and beyond the setback requirements to create private spaces. This could create areas between properties where there is a no-man’s land of vacant land in between properties, or unfenced properties with reduced security. Post and rail fences do not provide much opportunity to keep pets or children contained within a property and do not give a definitive sense of security.

While more open fencing or no fencing works well in some situations, there is a real concern that this will have an adverse effect on security and may create a double layer of fencing within properties to get around or away from these rule restrictions. If this is of concern, residents with the proposed Large Lot Residential Zone, need to find a way to make a further submission to the Selwyn District Plan to seek changes to the proposed fencing and boundary controls.

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