The Christchurch District Plan includes rules enabling intensification of housing in some residential areas.

The Land Use Recovery Plan(external link) (LURP) directs the Council to put in place land use policies and rules to assist rebuilding and recovery of communities that were disrupted by the earthquakes. The rules promote infill housing and intensification as a way of quickly increasing the availability of residential accommodation, without changing the overall character of residential areas.

The District Plan rules for the different forms of intensification are outlined below.

Converting a family flat into a residential unit

In the Residential Suburban, Residential Suburban Density Transition and Residential Hills zones, a family flat that was existing on 6 December 2013 can be converted into a separate residential unit that can be occupied by anyone, if the following requirements are met:

  • The new residential unit converted from the family flat has a gross floor area of at least 35m² (excluding terraces, garages, decks and verandahs)
  • In the Residential Suburban and Suburban Density Transition zones, a total outdoor living space area of least 90m² with a minimum dimension of 6m must be provided, and each residential unit must have a separate outdoor living space of 30m² which is readily accessible from its living area
  • The converted unit must have a parking space and the original dwelling must also comply with the parking requirements of the Transport chapter (which vary depending on the size of the original dwelling)
  • There is no minimum net site area requirement for either the converted flat or the original dwelling, but the converted flat must comply with all of the other Christchurch District Plan rules for residential units in that zone (recession planes, setbacks from boundaries, maximum height, etc).

No resource consent is needed if all these criteria are met, but a building consent for fire rating will be required if the converted family flat is attached to the original house or located within 2 metres of it. 

A Development Contribution is required when converting a family flat into a residential unit under these rules.

The encumbrance on the certificate of title which restricts the occupancy of the flat is able to be removed using form:  P-014b Request for Discharge of Encumbrance - Family Flat Conversion [PDF, 62 KB] (or Word) [DOC, 266 KB].

Please note that the fee for discharging an encumbrance does not include your own solicitor's fees. The preparation of the discharge document is done in consultation with your solicitor, as it is a legal document.

Converting an EPH unit into a residential unit

In the Residential Medium Density zone, an elderly person’s housing unit that was existing on 6 December 2013 can be converted into a residential unit that can be occupied by anyone, as long as:

  • The unit has a gross floor area of at least 35m2 (excluding terraces, garages, decks and verandahs); and
  • It has a separate outdoor living space readily accessible from its living area that is at least 30m2 with a minimum dimension of 3m.

No resource consent is needed if these requirements are met.

The decision on whether individual units are made available for general occupation is up to individual owners and Body Corporates (if applicable). Owners who are interested in making their unit available for general occupation will need to consult their Body Corporate to check whether approval is required from the Body Corporate.

The encumbrance on the certificate of title restricting the occupancy of the unit is able to removed using form:  P-014a Request for Discharge of Encumbrance - Elderly Person's Housing Unit Conversion [PDF, 69 KB] (or Word [DOC, 285 KB]). 

Please note that the fee for discharging an encumbrance does not include your own solicitor's fees. The preparation of the discharge document is done in consultation with your solicitor, as it is a legal document.

Building two residential units on a vacant site

Rules 14.4.1.1 P11 and P12 enable two dwellings to be built on vacant single sites in the Residential Suburban and Residential Suburban Density Transition zones. This provides intensification opportunities on sites in these zones that were vacant prior to the earthquakes, or sites where an earthquake-damaged home has been or is required to be demolished.

In these two zones, two residential units may be built on a site if all the following requirements are met:

  • Prior to the commencement of the Canterbury earthquakes the site was either:
    • vacant; or
    • occupied by one residential unit, which has been or will be, required to be demolished because the insurer(s) of that unit have determined that it was uneconomic to repair because of earthquake damage. (It will be necessary to provide documentation from the insurer stating this).
  • The site is not located in any of the following areas:
    • the tsunami inundation area identified by Environment Canterbury (Appendix 14.16.5)
    • the Riccarton Wastewater Interceptor Overlay, prior to completion of infrastructure work to enable capacity in the identified lower catchment
    • any Flood Management Area.
  •  A total outdoor living space area of least 90m² with a minimum dimension of 6m is provided, and each unit must have a separate outdoor living space of 30m² which is readily accessible from its living area
  • There is no net site area requirement for the new units, but they must comply with the other District Plan built form standards for residential units in that zone (recession plane, setbacks from boundaries, maximum height, etc).

No resource consent is need if all above criteria are met, but a building consent will be required for the new units and a Development Contribution will be payable for the additional unit.

The units may be subdivided after they have been constructed.

Converting an existing residential unit into two units

Rules 14.4.1.1 P10 and 14.7.1.1 P6 allow the modification of larger houses to increase the number of residential units on the site.

In the Residential Suburban and Residential Suburban Density Transition  zones, a residential unit may be converted into two independent residential units (including by extension to the house) if the following requirements are met:

  • The existing residential unit is not located in any of the following areas:
    • the tsunami inundation area identified by Environment Canterbury (Appendix 14.16.5)
    • the Riccarton Wastewater Interceptor Overlay area, prior to completion of infrastructure work to enable capacity in the identified lower catchment
    • any Flood Management Area.
  • Each new unit has a minimum gross floor area of 35m² (excluding terraces, garages, decks and verandahs);
  • A total outdoor living space area of least 90m² with a minimum dimension of 6m must be provided, and each unit must have a separate outdoor living space of 30m² which is readily accessible from its living area.
  • Both units must provide complying parking spaces in accordance with the Transport rules
  • There is no minimum net site area requirement for either of the new units, but they must comply with all of the other District Plan rules for residential units in that zone (recession plane, setbacks from boundaries, maximum height, etc).

In the Residential Hills zone, the following requirements must be met:

  • Each new unit has a minimum gross floor area of 35m² (excluding terraces, garages, decks and verandahs);
  • Both units must provide complying parking spaces in accordance with the Transport Chapter 7 provisions;
  • There is no minimum net site area requirement for either of the new units, but they must comply with all of the other District Plan rules for residential units in that zone (recession plane, setbacks from boundaries, maximum height, etc).

No resource consent is needed if all these criteria are met, but a building consent will be required for the conversion work. A Development Contribution for the additional unit will be payable when a building consent is obtained.

Enhanced Development Mechanism for medium density housing

Special provision is made for medium density housing developments in the Residential Suburban Density Transition, Residential Medium Density, Residential Banks Peninsula and Specific Purpose (Schools) zones:

Enhanced Development Mechanism: Medium density housing in the Residential Suburban and Residential Suburban Density Transition, Residential Medium Density, Residential Banks Peninsula and Specific Purpose (School) zones [PDF, 324 KB]

Community Housing Redevelopment Mechanism

Community houses are rental social housing units supplied by Christchurch City Council, Housing New Zealand Corporation, a not-for-profit housing organisation, or a Registered Community Housing provider.

What is the Community Housing Redevelopment Mechanism?

The Community Housing Redevelopment Mechanism (CHRM) is a set of rules in the District Plan that apply to specific areas of Christchurch that contain clusters of social or community housing. The rules enable medium density redevelopment to provide for better use of land and a wider range of housing types to suit different kinds of households (e.g. town houses and terrace houses).

Comprehensive development of large sites provides the flexibility to design medium density housing in a way that fits in with the surrounding area. The CHRM includes controls on the size and location of buildings, and requirements for outdoor space, landscaping and parking, to provide appropriately for residents and maintain the amenity of adjoining neighbourhoods.

Developments using this mechanism can either be all community housing, or a mix of community housing and privately owned dwellings.

Where can it be used?

The CHRM can be used on sites of between 1,500m2 and 1 hectare in the areas listed as CHRM on the District Plan maps 18, 23-26, 29-33, 37 and 45 (under "Other notations"). Sites of the required size may be created by amalgamating existing sections.

What can be built on qualifying sites?

Rule 14.14 sets out the standards which must be met by developments using the CHRM.

The main built form standards are summarised as:

  • Maximum height of 11m (three storeys), except within 15m of a Residential Suburban or Residential Suburban Density Transition zone boundary where the height is limited to 8m (2 storeys)
  • 4.5m road setback unless otherwise stated
  • Building setbacks and recession planes from neighbouring property boundaries
  • Minimum unit sizes of between 35m² (studio) and 90m² (3+ bedrooms)
  • Outdoor living space based on the size of the unit
  • 1 car park per unit, and in some cases 1 cycle space per unit
  • Maximum 40% site coverage by buildings
  • Outdoor service space, indoor storage space, waste management and landscaping requirements
  • Acoustic insulation near some types of road, and a 4m minimum setback from rail corridors.

Developments must achieve a minimum density of 30 households per hectare (1 unit per 330m²) and a maximum density of 65 households per hectare (1 unit per 150m²).

At least a third of the units built must be community housing units or, if the site already contained community housing on 6 December 2013, the development must include at least the same number of units, whichever is the greater number.

Resource consent requirements

All developments using this mechanism require a resource consent so the Council can assess the design of the development and its effects on the amenity of the surrounding area.  The application will be a restricted discretionary activity in the identified locations if all relevant rules are met.

Developments are assessed against the Residential Design Principles in Rule 14.15.1, and developers must provide a ‘design statement’ to show the Council how the proposal will provide a high quality development which maintains the amenity of its surroundings.

Related measures

Christchurch City Council, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu and other housing providers will develop ‘exemplar’ projects demonstrating attractive and cost-effective medium density and affordable housing.

The Council will also be working with lead developers such as Housing New Zealand Corporation to develop master plans for the redevelopment of some areas.

If you have questions or would like more information about these rules, please contact our Duty Planner.