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Rural & lifestyle property owners

Rural land development

Rural land development

With its own specific set of rules and regulations, land development in rural areas requires specialist expertise. Our inside knowledge of how councils and government agencies work, and how applications for resource consent are reviewed and approved, means we can prepare all of the required documentation and get you through the process as quickly as possible.

Adding new structures to your existing land – Whether you’re looking to renovate an existing structure, build new, or add a shed, our structural team can help ensure your project runs smoothly and efficiently.

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Get your project right from the start

Get your project right from the start

Whether you need us for just one aspect of a project, or a complete package solution, our land development team works together for you, creating developments that will meet applicable council requirements and manage the design of urban and suburban areas. We understand the compatibility of different land uses and know how to negotiate the best outcome for your development

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Services you may need us for and examples of the kinds of projects we assist on:

  • Boundary adjustments/selling a portion of property to your neighbour;

  • Land use and resource consent to erect structures in restricted rural zones;

  • Boundary fences/knowing who owns which piece of land - we offer cost-effective alternatives to pegging the boundary that still get your desired end result;

  • Resource consent for bridges

  • Underpass design and consent

  • Stormwater and wastewater discharge consent

  • Downsizing/selling off portions of a large farm

  • Structural demolition consent

Blog articles

Land Development opportunities and times of change

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.

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Managing Wastewater in Rural Canterbury: A Guide for Property Owners

Onsite wastewater systems in Rural Canterbury are reasonably common and are also known as septic tank systems. Appropriately dealing with sewage from rural property is important to ensure waste is not entering streams, groundwater or pooling in the backyard your children play in. It is essentially a public health matter, and the installation of on-site wastewater treatment systems is controlled by the Regional Council, Environment Canterbury (ECan).

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Importance of Sediment Management in Land Development Projects: Simple Techniques for Effective Sediment Runoff Control

Land development projects play a crucial role in shaping urban and rural landscapes, providing spaces for housing, commerce, and infrastructure. However, these projects can also have significant environmental impacts, particularly concerning sediment runoff into waterways. Sediment management during land development is essential to mitigate these impacts and protect water quality, ecosystems, and human health.

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Time matters – With Resource Consent

For most development projects, time is money and a common complaint with Resource Consent is delays. Consent authorities have a duty to avoid unreasonable delays. Not keeping to agreed timeframes under the Resource Management Act (RMA) has implications for applicants and consent authorities alike. For applicants, timeframe over runs can result in cashflow crises and budget blow outs. For consent authorities (Council), a timeframe failure allows applicants to claim refunds on processing fees of up to 50% and may also result in reputational damage if it is a regular occurrence.

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The rise or fall of rural lifestyle blocks in the Selwyn District?

New Zealand is arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world and therefore it is no surprise that more and more people are opting to live in rural lifestyle blocks. Lifestyle blocks, despite being a rural construct, have big association to cities, with dwellers often undertaking most of their activities within the city. Lifestyle blocks have become an attractive option in Selwyn with residents living in the Selwyn district and carrying out most daily activities within Christchurch.

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Navigating New Opportunities: The Importance of Land Development Planning in 2024

As we usher in a new year, fresh prospects emerge for those considering investments in property or venturing into new business opportunities and with this land development planning is imperative. In this dynamic planning landscape, thorough due diligence is key to understanding the intricacies and potential challenges associated with these prospects. When it comes to land or land resources, seeking advice from a professional planner becomes invaluable, providing insights into compliance, costs, and potential limitations tied to your aspirations.

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What does The Selwyn District Plan (appeals version) mean for the planning process and consent?

On the 27th of November 2023 the new Selwyn District Plan became live as an appeals version. This has created an interesting dynamic in how planning applications are assessed as there is complex interaction between the old operative plan and the new partially operative plan. The appeals version shows the rules, objectives and policies and any other provisions that have been appealed against. You might be asking yourself, but what effect will this have on someone looking to subdivide or develop in the Selwyn District? It’s a good question and one I will do my best to answer!

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How to navigate Rural Land Development Under the National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Soils

The National Policy Statement (NPS) on Highly Productive Soils, established in 2022, has had a significant impact on rural land development in New Zealand. Targeting all Land Use Classification 1, 2, and 3 soils – defined as lands highly suitable for agricultural production – irrespective of their current use or potential improvement, this policy primarily aims to prevent the loss of these valuable lands for productive uses. While its intentions are to safeguard agricultural land, the NPS has raised several challenges, particularly in agricultural activities and land subdivision.

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Rivers, Lakes and Coastline, Public Space for All

The right of access to and along the margins of rivers, lakes and the coastline by the public, is embedded in the Resource Management Act (RMA). District and Regional Councils are encouraged to provide and promote general public access to these spaces, for the amenity and wellbeing of all of our communities.

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Confused by Environmental Legislation? You are Not Alone.

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The National Policy Statement for Natural Hazard Decision-Making and its effects on Resource Consents

A number of new National Policy Statements (NPS) have been proposed within the last year, with some of these now being in effect. One of these, is the National Policy Statement for Natural Hazard Decision-Making (NPS-NHD), which directly effects the resource consent process.

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Flood Management | Changes in Selwyn

Natural hazards pose a growing threat to communities and properties worldwide, and New Zealand is no exception, meaning flood management is essential. A recent example is the Selwyn River flood that occurred in July of this year.To address such challenges amongst others, Selwyn District Council establishes a District Plan. At present Selwyn has two district plans: the outgoing Operative District Plan and the new Partially Operative District Plan (PODP) Within these plans is a significant focus on flood management. It's crucial to understand the implications of both plans when engaging in land development.


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Historic Heritage Challenges for Landowners

Having a slice of New Zealand's history is a unique experience. The stories of how the land was used, who owned it, and all the trades and sales that happened are pretty fascinating. But dealing with this history and making any changes to the land can be a bit tricky, especially if you're thinking about making alterations.

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Crime Prevention Through Environment Design (CPTED)

The concept of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) has an increased influence on development located within the Medium Design Residential Zone in Selwyn, due to the recently introduced Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021. If your property falls within this zone and you require a Resource Consent for development, these principles will likely influence your design choices.

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New Indigenous Biodiversity Legislation Mandates Significant Natural Area Identification

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS – IB) will have an impact on landowners' ability to clear native vegetation on private land starting from 4 August 2023. The primary objective of the NPS – IB is to ensure no net loss of indigenous biodiversity across Aotearoa New Zealand. It encompasses provisions that district and regional councils must adhere to in order to implement changes to their planning regulations.

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With increasing density, good design matters

New Zealand is more accustomed to building out, rather than up, and many New Zealanders are not comfortable with medium density in traditionally low-density suburbs, for good reason. Density done poorly can lead to detrimental outcomes on residential amenity and on the wellbeing of society’s least mobile: children, people with disabilities, the poor, and the elderly. Think developments separated from schools and shops by distance or major infrastructure (highways and railways); bulky, unattractive developments that look nothing like the surrounding neighbourhood; developments with poor access to sunlight and green space; developments where buildings dominate.

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Your Rights as an Affected Neighbour: Navigating Development Under the RMA

When your neighbour decides to do a development next door you may be concerned how the changes might affect you enjoying your own property. This can be a greater concern if your neighbour is Kāinga Ora, the government agency responsible for social housing. It is helpful to understand what the District Plan is going to manage, and what your rights are throughout this process.

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How Tree Canopies Transform Neighbourhoods and Enhance Lives

Arbour Day has been celebrated in New Zealand since 5 June 1977, recognising the significance of trees in our lives. The date change from August 4th was a strategic move to ensure tree planting occurs during the optimal season. However, integrating trees into the development of new neighbourhoods should not be limited to a single day of the year. The importance of incorporating trees and green spaces into residential settings cannot be emphasised enough. District Councils and Developers play a vital role in ensuring the provision and preservation of these green assets for generations to come. A vibrant tree canopy not only enhances the visual appeal of our communities but also offers an array of benefits that profoundly impact our quality of life.

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Balancing Common Sense and Legal Process under the RMA: Protecting Communities and the Environment

When it comes to district planning, the fixed nature of rules often raises questions about their practicality. While it may seem unreasonable for a resource consent to be required for minor breaches, it is essential to consider the broader implications of such leniency. It is important to strike a balance between common sense and legal processes under the Resource Management Act (RMA), emphasizing the need to protect communities and environment.

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Our History - How We All Play a Part in its Protection

New Zealand may not have towering cathedrals or ancient ruins, but that doesn't mean our history is any less valuable. From the stories of our indigenous peoples to the remnants of early European settlement, our cultural and natural heritage is a precious part of our identity. These treasures not only remind us of our past but also help shape our future. As our country continues to grow and change, it's more important than ever to protect and preserve these treasures for future generations.

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Councils are Increasing Residential Density, but why, who does it benefit?

It is a well-known fact that New Zealand has a shortage of affordable housing. Often the question asked is: “How has this happened?” Numerous academic reports over the years have attempted to dissect what we now refer to as the ‘housing crisis’.

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Burning crop stubble on your property?

The quantity of stubble (crop residue) produced in New Zealand is around 1 million tonnes per year by the arable industry in New Zealand. About 700,000 tonnes of this is produced in Canterbury. Most crop residue in Canterbury is either baled, incorporated into the soil or left on the soil surface leaving around 300,000 tonnes that is burned in Canterbury each year.

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The Great Forestry Debate

Plantation forestry have been promoted as a cure for many of our societal ills, with benefits towards alleviating the climate crisis, generation of income from marginal land, and providing economic benefits via widespread employment. However, recent extreme weather events have highlighted some of the flaws of plantation forestry. This has forced central governments to reconsider if widespread plantation forestry a land use deserving of our continued active support. Or is it time to manage the industry differently seeking better environmental outcomes for all?

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Make Your Additional Land Profitable Under the Selwyn Proposed Plan

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.

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Tiny Home Revolution May Not Save Costs

There is a myth that the government relaxing the rules around structures no bigger than 30 square metres means you can have a tiny home on your property. As with any change in rules it comes with conditions and limitations and in this case, does not extend to the obligations under the Resource Management Act, or development contribution payments under the Local Government Act. Furthermore, the change in rules under the Building Act does not extend to structures containing kitchens.

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Planning Permissions – Resource Consent or Plan Change?

Are you looking to undertake a subdivision or development that is not permitted under your local District Plan? Depending on the scale of your proposal, and the extent of any non-compliances with respect to the District Plan, then you may require one of two permissions from Council; a resource consent or a private plan change.

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Changes to Resource Management Planning Signalled in Proposed Legislation

The recent release of the Natural and Built Environments (NBE) bill has outlined the changes intended by Central Government to better provide for environmental management and land use planning moving forward. This incorporates existing National Policy Statements and standards relating to freshwater and highly productive land resources.

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Wild Weather and Resource Consent Requirements

Emergency powers under the Resource Management Act (RMA) allow for works to be undertaken without a resource consent in certain circumstances. With the wild weather hitting New Zealand recently, these provisions are sure to be exercised, but Section 330 of the RMA does not provide carte blanche ability to start moving debris or altering waterways by any person who considers there is a risk. The provisions contain key features to control who, and when, emergency powers can be exercised.

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Fundamental Culture Shift in New Zealand Planning Legislation.

There is a general shift in New Zealand legislation to better honour the partnership principles between the Crown and Iwi, embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi. Central Government driven National Policy Statements (NPS) for both fresh water and highly productive soils illustrate this fundamental change and arguably have directed some of the most significant changes to compliance measures for modern farming.

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Crunch Time For New Freshwater Legislation

In 2020, Central Government released an abundance of Freshwater Policies, including National Policy Statements (NPS-FW) and National Environmental Standard for Freshwater (NES-FW), and addendums to the RMA bringing in Freshwater Farm Plans and Stock Exclusion Regulations. As we near the end of 2022, push has come to shove, and these regulations are starting to take effect. Understanding what the raft of regulations will mean for farmers is important to ensure regulatory compliance for our agricultural sector.

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Proposed Selwyn District Plan Update

Selwyn District Council’s proposed District Plan was notified on 5 October 2020 and is now nearly two years into the consultation process, with hearings now complete. Council have delayed the release of the fully Operative Plan until 20 August 2023 to align with the decision on the new legislation required by Central Government relating to medium density standards.

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Highly Productive Soils – Big Picture Thinking vs Private Landowners Needs

The expansion of our towns and cities, and our ever growing obsession with rural lifestyle blocks has been threatening the viability of our productive soils for many decades. The balance is now being tested by the recently established National Policy Statement (NPS) relating to Class 1, 2 and 3 land and possibly other productive rural land.

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Is it a Wetland or Not?

Wetlands play an important role in our ecosystems providing water filtration and a plethora of biodiversity values. However, managing wetlands located within farms raises challenges around stock exclusion and land drainage management. In recent years many councils began mapping wetlands in an effort to provide a clear rules framework, and to delineate clearly where rules apply.

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Housing Intensification – Not for Everyone Says CCC

Christchurch City Council (CCC) recently voted against notifying a plan change to give effect to the Government Housing Intensification legislation. Meanwhile, Selwyn District, along with most other local authorities in New Zealand, notified 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.

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Change isn't coming, it's here!

You may have read or heard about the amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) with respect to enabling housing intensification. The amendments required certain Councils to adopt the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) into their District Plans. In Canterbury, this includes Selwyn District, Waimakariri District and Christchurch City Councils.

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Who Pays for Infrastructure in Greenfield Land Development?

Development of large areas of land to allow for additional residential housing in Selwyn is at an all-time high, with the region experiencing multiple privately initiated plan change requests. These requests usually seek to allow farmland on the edge of townships to be converted to residential zones. There is much dispute if this is a good thing or not, or if we should instead be accommodating people within the existing urban extent of Selwyn’s townships.

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Have your say on Development Projects

As part of a resource consent process, applications have to go through a notification test to determine who needs to be made aware of the development and be given the opportunity to have their say. This is referred to as limited notification (only certain parties are considered affected) or public notification (open to the public and anyone can make a submission).

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Outstanding Natural Features and Landscapes - effect on farming

From time to time a Council will review its planning documents or look to update them in light of changes to the common understanding of best practice planning. The Resource Management Act (RMA) also requires a review of each planning provision every 10 years to ensure its still relevant for similar reasons.

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State highways, noise and reverse sensitivity: what’s the buzz?

The expansion of Selwyn’s towns and economies requires access via state highways for efficient transport of people and goods. The importance of state highways and residential development can result in the two competing land uses in close proximity to one another, resulting in spill over effects of noise, vibration, and dust. In anticipation and response to this Waka Kotahi (NZTA) have actively been working with district plan updates to create legislative instruments designed to protect property owners from any unwelcome surprises.

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Planning land use to be resilient to natural hazards

There is an increasing concern about climate change, greater reports of extreme weather events resulting in flooding, landslides, and coastal inundation and the potential effect on our urban and rural landscapes. The dreams of owning a house overlooking the beach, are in some instances, literally slipping away. In other cases, new information and flood modelling has identified greater risk as a result of where we have historically chosen to develop land.

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Boundary disputes – What are they and how can you resolve them?

For most people, purchasing their own home will be their biggest investment. Whether it’s your first time or not, you undoubtedly want the experience to be positive with no unexpected issues. To avoid any surprises, it is important that you undertake comprehensive due diligence. This includes checking the Record of Title and associated survey plan to ensure everything is true and correct, especially the sites' boundaries as to avoid any potential boundary disputes between neighbours.

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A recent Baseline Group project was recognised at the 2022 Canterbury Architecture Awards

Thirty buildings around Canterbury all scooped up the prestigious awards from the Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects Local Architecture Awards this year, with a range of styles, new and old, recognised.

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Highly Productive Soils – Big Picture Thinking vs Private Landowners Needs

The expansion of our towns and cities, and our ever-growing obsession with rural lifestyle blocks has been threatening the viability of our productive soils for many decades.

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The impact of consent notices when purchasing land

Buying or selling a home can be a stressful time, and due diligence forms are a critical part of deciding if you ought to purchase a home.

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The Role of Planning in the Climate Change - Discussion for Agriculture

The decisions made around how we reduce emissions and how land is managed to reduce risks from climate change, does indeed effect how farms are run on a day-to-day basis.

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How might Development Contributions affect you?

Make sure to consider Development Contributions whilst planning for your next project.

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Negotiating with Neighbours Under the RMA

You have rights when it comes to deciding if you want to give your written approval to a project neighbouring your property.

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The dream of subdividing your land

Subdivision of land is often depicted as being an effective way to maximise the value of your land.

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Managing Cultural Heritage Sites

Early consultation with iwi can assist in achieving a suitable outcome and help to manage our Cultural Heritage sites for future generations.

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RMA changes are coming, are you ready?

Beginning in August 2022, new Resource Management Act (RMA) regulations will change the face of planning in New Zealand.

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Hazardous activities, land contamination and resource consent applications

Have you had your site checked for past or present hazardous activities?

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Time's up on the RMA

Love it or hate it, the RMA has shaped the development of New Zealand over the past 30 years.

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Game changers for housing under the RMA

Game changers do not come along often, however the Government recently released a Bill that will change how land development occurs across New Zealand.

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What to do when you inherit land

At some point in your life you may find yourself inheriting land from a recently passed loved one or from a distant relative.

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Housing Growth continues in Selwyn with Legislative Support

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

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Indigenous Biodiversity: what does it mean for a farmer?

Historically, New Zealand has seen the extensive loss of indigenous biodiversity associated with original land development practices to create farmland. However there is an increasing trend, and direction through legislation, to protect and enhance biodiversity values on farms.

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How lizards might affect your new development

There are five species of lizard consisting of either skinks and geckos present on Banks Peninsula and in the Canterbury High Country; four species in particular are either declining or nationally vulnerable, namely the Spotted Skink, Jewelled Gecko, Canterbury Gecko and Common Skink.

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But that’s the way we have always done it!

Just because you have always been allowed to do something does not mean you will not need a resource consent for that activity in the future. Activities to the use of the coastal environment, a discharge to land, air or water, a water take for irrigation, or the use of the bed of a river may require future consent if a Regional or Unitary Council change the rules.

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What does a professional planner do?

Acquiring a resource consent can involve several different professionals, including planners, surveyors, lawyers, landscape architects, engineers, and ecologists. So how does planning differ from other professions and when should you engage one?

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Who Shapes our Planning Rules?

With Further Submissions to the Selwyn District Plan due to open soon, it’s interesting to consider where our planning rules come from. The district plan is full of rules that determine building setback distance from neighbours, roads, reserves and waterways. It sets out the maximum height of buildings, the maximum amount of site covered with buildings and the minimum allotment area for the subdivision. All of these rules have fixed and definite limits in terms of specific meters or square meters.

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Risks to farmland in the planning framework

With the RMA under scrutiny lately and a new planning framework for managing risks to land being integrated over the next two years, it’s a good time to consider the potential environmental risks to your land and how you might best manage them.

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Spotlight on District Plan Provisions

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.

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Selwyn District Council Changes Urban Allotment Sizes

With a proposed new district plan notified and going through a public participation process it is useful to consider what changes to the rules have been proposed. For example, one change is the urban zone minimum allotment sizes for residential activities. The existing planning framework for Selwyn has been modified through various processes over the years and it is very difficult to determine the minimum allotment as it varies between townships and there are multiple zones within a township that do not appear to follow rhyme or reason.

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Proposed Selwyn District Plan - What next?

After having made your submission to the proposed Selwyn District Plan outlining concerns with changes or lack of changes to zoning, flood risk areas, noise limits, changes to minimum allotment sizes, or changes that enable multi-unit developments on site, - you may be asking what is the next step?

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Good District Plan provisions save time and money

New planning provisions in district and regional plans can lead to an increase in public notification of resource consent applications to ensure any activities that are outside the anticipated planning provisions are appropriate. The costs of the public notification and subsequent hearing process can be in the order of tens of thousands of dollars to the applicant under the RMA’s user pays system, emphasizing the need to get our planning provisions correct early on.

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A Practical Guide for District Plan Reviews

Understanding changes in legislation can be difficult enough, and with the Government bringing in new provisions under National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards, it can be difficult to keep up. At a local level, there are many district and unitary councils going through a plan change process after their 10-year plan review and are making rule and policy changes consistent with national legislative changes.

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Planning Rules can Affect Property Value

The Selwyn District council have notified a new District Plan with planning rules that govern how we use our properties and what our neighbors can do on their properties. These permitted activities are intended to ensure amenity values are achieved within our communities. The activities undertaken on your property or neighbouring properties can influence the value of property.

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Rural Allotment Sizes set to Double

Selwyn District Council notified the new Selwyn District Plan in early October with a wide range of changes to the planning provisions that apply across the district. One big change in the new look district plan is that it will increase the minimum allotment size for rural subdivisions in the western part of the Selwyn District.

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District Plan in Selwyn – How will it Affect You?

Selwyn District Council are ready to notify a revised new District Plan in early October. While it’s not certain what this new plan will contain, we understand that the current large number of planning zones is to be reduced. No doubt this will change the zoning for parts of our urban and rural zones and may also change the minimum area you can easily subdivide your land too.

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Minimum Car Parking Requirements to be Chopped

Car parking requirements for new urban developments are due to be on the chopping block within 18 months under new planning provisions. All district councils are required to remove any objective, policy, rule or method that imposes a minimum carparking requirement in accordance with the Governments Urban Development National Policy statement.

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Commercial Activity in a Rural Zone – What’s the Harm?

Most District Councils place a restriction on commercial activities being carried out in rural or residential zones. By commercial I’m not talking about the commercial nature of your farm which may be your business. I mean businesses which are not relying on the use of the land to operate. Activities such as cafés, shops, office space or even warehousing and storage activities fall under the type of commercial activities councils are trying to control.

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Why we have complicated septic tank disposal rules

When extending a dwelling in the rural environment and you don’t have access to council sewer, it’s important to be aware of the potential issues you are uncovering. Find out what you should consider for your septic tank to meet the standards

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Cross lease titles - an overview

Find out more about the ins and outs of cross-leases and how ownership over a household unit is determined by the title.

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Buildings under exemptions may still need resource consent

Recently Government announced exemptions to the Building Act which mean building consents may no longer be required for small builds. Before you rush out to buy building materials be aware that the devil is in the detail.

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Is the RMA really the problem?

For years we have heard the issue that development gets held up because of resource consents and this adds significant costs and delays to development. Is the RMA to blame for this or is it the way developers and councils work together to achieve positive planning outcomes?

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Minimum car parking requirements to be chopped

Car parking requirements change for new urban developments are due to be on the chopping block within 18 months under new planning provisions.

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The importance of knowing your boundaries

Land is an important asset and discussions with neighbours over where the boundary lies between properties can occasionally be problematic. This is particularly relevant if your land contains trees, good grazing land, streams,rivers or a coastal margin. It’s helpful to know your rights and obligations when it comes to property boundaries.

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Rural allotment sizes set to double in West Selwyn

With new changes being made to planning provisions in the Selwyn District, see how the minimum allotment sizes increase for rural subdivisions in the western part of the Selwyn District.

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