If you are planning to carry out major excavations, filling, or earthworks on your property, you are likely to need a resource consent.

Resource consents

Under the Christchurch City Plan any earthworks, including excavation and filling, which are not associated with a subdivision or building consent and exceed the following limits will require a resource consent. This includes driveways, retaining wall excavations and filling of old swimming pools.

Note: Earthworks to repair earthquake damage to flat residential land are covered by a different set of rules.

 Christchurch City Plan zone Volume Excavation depth
Fill (m)
Living H and HA Zones 10m³/site 0.5 0.5
All other Living Zones and Business 1 Zone

(approx =

0.5 0.5

Business 2, 2P, 3 4, 4P, 4T and 
Central City Mixed Use zones

(approx =
0.5 0.15

Business 5, 6, 8 and Central City
Business zones

(approx =
0.5 0.5

This is not a full list - refer to City Plan Volume 3, Part 9, Clause 5.3 and also the content of fill and excavation material, Clause 5.4. Also refer to the Proposed Replacement District Plan, Chapter 5 for earthworks in identified natural hazards areas. In the Specific Purpose (Flat Land Recovery) zone of the Proposed Replacement District Plan the maximum volume of cut and fill is 50m3/ha (as a ratio). 

Under the Banks Peninsula District Plan, resource consent is required where filling and excavation exceed the following levels:

 Banks Peninsula District Plan zone Volume Face height (m)
Residential, Residential Conservation Zones  20m³/site   1.5
Small Settlement 50m³/site 0.5
Rural 100m³/site 2m, max downhill
vertical spill – 2.4m

There are some exemptions for earthworks under the Banks Peninsula District Plan. Please contact the Duty Planner at DutyPlanner@ccc.govt.nz to discuss these if you are planning on undertaking any earthworks on Banks Peninsula. The Christchurch City Plan is under review and the Proposed Replacement District Plan contains rules for earthworks.  These rules take effect once the Independent Hearings Panel issues a decision.  Please contact the Duty Planner to check whether the new rules apply before starting work on the site.

National Environmental Standard

Activities carried out on land that is contaminated, or potentially contaminated, must comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NES), unless a resource consent is obtained.  Activities controlled by the NES include disturbance of soil (earthworks), soil sampling, removal or replacement of fuel storage system, subdivision, and changing the use of land (e.g. building a dwelling on vacant land, changing the use of a site from industrial to commercial).

Information about the NES is available on the Ministry for the Environment website. It explains how to find out if your land and the activity you are planning is covered by the NES. In addition, Environment Canterbury maintains a Listed Land Use Register of potentially contaminated sites.

If you need further assistance you can also contact one of the Council’s Environmental Health Officers on (03) 941 8999.

Building consents

Where site works are associated with a building, they must comply with the Building Act 2004.  The Building Act 2004 requires any person contemplating filling or excavating to protect land and other property from erosion, falling debris, slippage subsidence, inundation, alluvion and avulsion. The building code requires that surface water collected or concentrated by buildings or site work shall be disposed of in a way that avoids the likelihood of damage or nuisance to other property. Where work requires approval under the Building Act 2004, a building consent or exemption from building consent application must be made and approved before work can begin on the site.

See the Building Consents webpage for more information on the process.