Providing for Greater Christchurch

The preliminary draft Land Use Recovery plan (the LURP) is the latest in a sequence of important urban growth planning documents for Greater Christchurch. The LURP is intended to assist recovery of Greater Christchurch by providing a framework and guidance for housing and business land use.

The LURP stems from the Urban Development Strategy, Plan Change 1 (PC1) to the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement (RPS) and the displacement of people from work and home following the Canterbury earthquakes. It follows successful judicial review of the Minister of Earthquake Recovery’s decision to insert Chapter 12A into the RPS using his special powers under the CER Act (the Minister’s version of PC1).

In this article we provide a brief overview of how the LURP works, the key changes from PC1 and how land developers should respond.

How the LURP works

The LURP has a short to medium term focus (10-15 years) on 10 priorities to aid the recovery and rebuild of Greater Christchurch. These priorities fall within three categories: land use framework, housing and business.

Land use framework

The land use framework provides direction regarding the location, type and mix of residential and business activities in Greater Christchurch within priority areas that are suitable for development up to 2028 as shown on attached Map A “Greenfield Priority Areas”.

The framework enables local authorities to identify the network of key activity centres required to support these priority areas and the methods to ensure the integration of land use with infrastructure and transport networks. It also describes the minimum residential densities for different housing locations and requires urban design matters to be addressed for business, housing and mixed used development.

This clear direction aims to provide local and central Government, land developers and purchasers with certainty for the future development of Greater Christchurch.


The Canterbury earthquakes have changed Christchurch’s requirements for housing. We now need temporary housing for homeowners whilst repairs are carried out on their own homes, temporary accommodation for workers assisting in the rebuild, and new permanent homes for displaced Cantabrians.

The LURP priorities are to increase housing supply to meet this new demand, to increase housing choice to support recovery and to restore and enhance the quality and sustainability of housing areas. The plan indicates that by 2028 there should be an additional 42,606 residential sections within Greater Christchurch.


Suitable Greenfield business areas are identified for development in accordance with strategic infrastructure of national significance. This is to enable movement of international and domestic freight to and from New Zealand, enhancing the survival of businesses in these identified areas, and the locations themselves.


The LURP is to be implemented by making changes to the planning documents of each district within Greater Christchurch. These include the Christchurch City Plan, the Selwyn District Plan, the Waimakariri District Plan and the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement.

The main changes from PC1

The LURP is generally consistent with the Minister’s version of PC1 with minor changes to growth areas, implementation methods, and timeframe and sequencing.

Areas of development

The areas identified for residential and business development are almost identical to the areas identified in the Minister’s version of PC1. The provisions dealing with rural residential development are also similar.

One of the key differences relates to business land by the airport which was identified as potentially appropriate for business development under PC1.

However, the LURP only identifies three small portions of land within this area as being suitable for priority business development. This appears to be directly informed by the Christchurch City Council’s North-West review which identifies the same three areas for business development.

Implementation methods

A key change in the LURP are the new provisions directed toward reducing delay in development of land indentified as suitable for urban growth.  The Minister has responded to the greater demand for new residential land following the Canterbury Earthquakes and is utilising the significant powers available to him under the CER Act to ensure that sufficient land is available and utilised to meet the recovery needs of Greater Christchurch.

These provisions include reducing consent timeframes and notification requirements, streamlining internal council procedures to reduce costs, and reviewing development contributions to incentivise delivery of a range of housing types (especially higher density development), to name but a few.

Many of these measures mirror the proposed RMA reforms recently released in the Government Discussion Document, “Improving our resource management system”.

Timeframe and Sequencing

There are three key differences regarding timeframe and sequencing. First, the LURP runs for a 10-15 year period which is considerably shorter than the 30 year period for PC1.

Secondly, the household numbers in the LURP have generally increased from PC1 as a consequence of the earthquakes and the need for additional suitable land for development.

Thirdly, the prescriptive sequencing provisions of PC1 have been replaced by a table providing for “potential timing of Greenfield Housing supply”. This provides for greater flexibility although development of land indentified in the LURP for urban growth will be supported by the new implementation methods discussed above.

How should you respond?

The LURP has two consultation phases and it is important to participate in both if you wish to influence outcomes. The first is occurring now and you have until 12pm on Monday 22 April to provide your comments on the preliminary draft.

Once submissions have closed, the Regional Council will then re-draft the LURP in light of the comments received and present it to the Minister by 7 June 2013. The Minister will then notify the final draft LURP and call for submissions. This will be the second and final phase of consultation.

A copy of the LURP can be viewed at:


Disclaimer: This is a brief summary for information purposes only and is not legal advice

Posted on Tuesday 26th March, 2013 at 10:05 am