Hurunui District Plan Review

The Hurunui District Council is reviewing its District Plan, which it is required to do every ten years. Currently the Council is in the process of conducting workshops and engaging with landowners and interested parties to gain feedback and community opinions on this review.

In this article we provide an overview of some of the changes proposed by the Council and comment on the opportunities this review presents. Our summary is not exhaustive and there remains the opportunity to request that the Council consider any other aspects of the Plan that may affect you.

Proposed areas of change

Outstanding Natural Landscapes (ONL)

The Council is open to requests and submissions on ONL boundaries. Whilst the Council will not be undertaking a detailed landscape assessment, it is prepared to consider a landowner’s request for their land to be excluded from an ONL. Three areas have been identified as having strong natural landscapes: DOC land in the Hurunui Lakes area and the St James Conservation Area; Mt Cass; and private land around the Waipara Gorge.

If you own property which currently is identified as an ONL it may be worth commencing a discussion with the Council about whether it can be removed. If an ONL is removed, your land will have greater development potential and a corresponding increase in value.

Ecologically significant areas (ESA) or areas of significant indigenous vegetation

The Council is considering introducing a transferable development right for properties that contain an ESA.
The key concept is that the right to subdivide and build a house is transferred from a property constrained by an ESA to another location, provided that long term legal protection is given to the land containing the ESA.

For landowners with an ESA on their property, this may present an opportunity to better develop other land in the district, by transferring subdivision rights to another property.

The Council is also considering including rules that allow certain activities to occur without resource consent so long as the activity is covered by an approved Biodiversity Management Plan, along with some small changes to activities allowed in areas with an ESA or significant indigenous vegetation.

Rural environment

The Council is contemplating changing the rural subdivision requirements to enable greater flexibility in rural subdivision design, whilst still maintaining the open space and rural character of the district. Some approaches include introducing standards to protect rural amenity values including setback requirements between residential activities and farming activities, and noise limits on recreational activities such as motor cross.

The Council is also proposing to relax some standards such as setback requirements from roads for farm accessory buildings, signage approaching towns for businesses located within that town, and containers being screened from public roads.

If you have an interest in the rural environment this process may present an opportunity to loosen some restrictions on your property or activities in the rural zones.

Urban Environment

There are some small changes proposed for the urban environment particularly making the height limit in all zones 8 metres, reducing separation distances between buildings in business zones and allowing temporary activities such as galas, public meetings, concerts and sporting events under certain conditions.

There is no urban rezoning proposed. However this is an opportunity to promote change. If you own rural property adjacent to the urban zone or residential land adjacent to a commercial zone this may be a good opportunity to open discussion with the Council on a possible zone change. If there is merit in your proposal the Council may be persuaded to include the zone change in the district plan review.

Impact on you

Whether you are a land owner, business owner or resident in the district there are benefits from participating in this process. By being involved early you may be able to create opportunities to increase your development prospects or secure more favourable rules for your business.

At this early stage of the review we think the Council is more likely to have an open mind. As the process moves forward the Council is likely to become more fixed in its position and it may be more challenging to get the Council to change its mind.


The Council aims to notify the Plan in December 2013 for submissions. However, this may be pushed to early 2014 depending on the extent and outcome of consultation that occurs.

Next Steps

Further information is on the plan review can be found at, including how to provide your comment and initiate discussions with the council.

If you have any questions about the review or how it may affect you please let us know.

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

Posted on Friday 4th October, 2013 at 09:29 am