District Plan Review - Residential Land and Natural Hazards

Our previous articles considered the implications of the Proposed Plan for commercially and industrially zoned land throughout Christchurch. In this article we comment on how the Proposed Plan affects residential land, along with the new natural hazard provision that are proposed.

Residential Land

The amendments to the residential zone are aimed at enabling greater intensification in the appropriate areas, whilst maintaining and achieving good residential character and amenity.

The District Plan Review proposes to create three new zones for residential land within Christchurch:

  • Residential Suburban - this zone was previously Living 1 and is an area of existing low density.
  • Residential Suburban Density Transition– this zone was previously Living 2 and is a transitional zone between the low and high density zones.
  • Residential Medium Density– this was previously Living 3 and 4 zones and will provide for medium density development.

What can I do in each zone?

In all of the residential zones, the clear focus is on providing for residential activities. There is very limited provision for non-residential activities, such as offices, retail and other small businesses. It will be increasingly difficult to establish such activities in residential zones, with the plan directing those activities to locate in the various commercial zones throughout Christchurch.

Residential Suburban Zone

This zone continues to allow for a density of 450m2 per unit. The area also incorporates a number of changes introduced by the Land Use Recovery Plan. These changes were already available to owners of sites in this zone, and include the options to make the following changes to a site:

  • Add an additional minor residential unit on a site
  • Conversion of existing elderly persons housing or a family flat into a residential unit
  • Replacement of an earthquake demolished unit with two units
  • Social housing multi-units

Residential Suburban Density Transition zone

The site density for this area remains the same at 330m2. The Proposed Plan also allows for single storey multi-unit residential complexes of up to 2 units and additional residential units through the resource consenting process, generally as a restricted discretionary activity.

Residential medium density zone

This zone retains its existing density and provides for new medium density within greenfield development areas and around some Key Activity Centres (KACs) and large Neighbourhood Centres where residential units are permitted. This is subject to some restrictions such as number of bedrooms, site density, building use and Built Form Standards

What is not included in this stage of the review?

Some further residential matters will be reviewed in phase 2 of the District Plan Review. These include Special Amenity Areas, additions, alterations and demolition in Banks Peninsula, Living Hills Zones, Living Rural Settlement Zones, Banks Peninsula Small Settlement Zones, the Living 5 Zone, the Living Greenfield Zones and Red Zones

Natural Hazards

The District Plan Review introduces a number of new rules to manage natural hazards throughout Christchurch. Similar rules apply to all areas, not just residential land. The key natural hazards that the rules seek to address are flooding, liquefaction, and slope instability.


Flooding is currently managed through the identification of a Flood Management Area (FMA) on the planning maps. The District Plan Review replaces this with a Floor Level and Fill Management Area (FLFMA), which covers a significantly larger area than the existing FMA.

This increase is the result of updated inputs into the flood models, including the latest LiDAR data on ground levels and capturing areas beyond the main stem of the rivers. In addition, the models now allow for a sea level rise of 1m compared to the current allowance of 0.5m. The combined effect of these changes is that the FLFMA will increase in size by approximately 65% and extend over an additional 25,000 properties (measured as rating units) compared to the existing FMA.

Within the FLFMA, there is a new area known as the Fixed Minimum Floor Overlay (the Overlay). This is an area where the modelling is sufficiently reliable that minimum floor levels can be set without the need for site specific assessment. Within the Overlay, new buildings and significant additions are permitted provided that minimum floor levels are met. In other parts of the FLFMA outside the Overlay, all new buildings and significant additions require resource consent to determine the appropriate floor level.

Another notable change is that buildings that need to be raised to achieve minimum floor levels will no longer need to comply with the recession plane rules. This gives priority to flood mitigation over shading and amenity impacts on neighbouring properties. However, this exemption only applies to the Overlay and does not apply elsewhere within the FLFMA.

In addition to floor levels, new rules also apply to filing and excavation within the FLFMA. These activities are generally permitted, subject to various conditions and volume limits.


All of the flat land within Christchurch has been categorised Liquefaction Assessment Area 1 or 2, with Area 1 being the higher risk area. Within both of these areas, any subdivision that creates an additional lot requires resource consent as a restricted discretionary activity so that liquefaction risk can be assessed. In addition, any intensive development occurring on large sites within Area 1 requires resource consent for the same reason.

Slope instability

For the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula, the Proposed Plan identifies various Instability Management Areas that are subject to different risks such as rockfall and mass movement. Activities in these locations (including earthworks, subdivision and building) are restricted based on the level of risk that exists. This is one of the few issues in the Proposed Plan that imposes a complete prohibition on some activities.

To find out more:

  • See our other articles about the implications for activities on commercial and industrial land
  • View the draft plan and related documents at www.proposeddistrictplan.ccc.govt.nz
  • Contact us if your have any specific queries

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

Posted on Friday 26th September, 2014 at 11:05 am