Bright minds and big ideas bring innovation and vitality to the Central City, and a unique set of planning rules keep us all on the same page.

Whatever your development interests, let us help you make the most of the opportunities

The Christchurch District Plan and the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan provide the Central City development framework. 

Both plans have a strong retail and commercial focus. They support an increase in Central City housing within an increasingly green and accessible setting, supported by effective infrastructure. 

Building a unique place

Here's what makes the Central City unique:

  • A city built for people.
  • A strong residential, retail and commercial core with access to green spaces.
  • A compact, convenient and accessible city layout.
  • An active focus on diverse, medium and high-density residential development.
  • A cityscape with a 'human scale', strong cultural narrative and identity. 
  • An interesting mix of heritage and contemporary architecture.
  • High-quality site and building design that supports liveable Central City neighbourhoods. 
  • Enlivened public spaces with street activities and artworks that bring vibrancy, buzz and interest around town.
  • Transport choices for getting in and around the Central City:
    • An efficient public transport system.
    • An extensive cycleway network and dedicated bike parking.
    • Walkable, pedestrian-friendly streets and laneways.
    • A range of eScooter providers.
    • Car parking provision through a network of well-located facilities, and short term on-street parking for those people who really need it. 

Understanding the planning requirements - residential

Under the Christchurch District Plan, residential development can occur throughout Central City.

The District Plan allows for a higher density of residential development in the Central City than elsewhere in Christchurch, with a combination of residential neighbourhoods and areas that can have a mix of uses within close proximity of one another, on the same site or within the same building.  

With these differences in neighbourhoods in mind, there are a number of Central City planning and design requirements you'll need to take into consideration when scoping and designing your development.  Here's a summary of the key planning and design matters - but for more detail refer to the District Plan(external link) or get in touch with the Council's duty planner at Urban designers and an eco-design advisor are also available to chat with, free of charge.  

 Site density requirements

  • At least one residential unit per 200 square metres is required within the Central City Residential Zone (equivalent to 50 residential units per hectare). For all other zones in Central City, there is no minimum residential site density requirement. Instead, the density of residential development is shaped by the combination of great design and the relevant built form standards including outdoor living, landscaping and minimum net floor area requirements.

On-site amenity

 What needs to be provided:

  • Outdoor living space: Outdoor living space is required for all residential units, whether at ground level or via balconies and roof gardens, with standards that set out minimum area and dimension requirements.
  • Minimum net floor area requirements: To ensure a certain level of internal comfort and space for residential occupants, there are minimum net floor area requirements for studios, 1, 2 and 3+ bedroom residential units. 
  • Service and storage spaces: Provision must be made for the storage of items such as sports gear, bikes, bins, and for household activities such as drying laundry.
  • Noise reduction: With a mixture of activities within close proximity to one another, Central City residential developments are required to achieve a minimum level of noise attenuation.

Building and site design 

 What to consider and provide:

  • Urban design:  You'll need to understand and address the Urban Design Assessment matters and principles as they apply to your development. 
  • Landscaping: Depending upon the location and zoning of your site, you will need to provide tree and garden planting at road and/or internal boundaries. Within the Central City Residential Zone specifically, a minimum of 20% of the site should be planted. Native planting should be incorporated within your planting scheme, especially native trees. 
  • Maximum building height: Medium-rise buildings are encouraged in Central City. Permitted heights for buildings are outlined in the Central City Maximum Building Height Planning Map and range between 8m-30m.

Parking requirements

  • Provision must be made for cycle parking for all residential units but on-site parking is not required.

National Policy Statement on Urban Development (2020)

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (2020) requires Councils to enable in their District Plans building heights and densities in the city centre zone to realise as much urban development capacity as possible.

This will be implemented by August 2022 and may change the height and density provisions for residential development in the Central City. More information on this NPS can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website(external link).  

The government has also introduced the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters(external link)) Amendment Bill to bring forward and strengthen the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020.

How can we help?

Have questions, need guidance or can't find what you're looking for about building by the rules? Get in touch with our duty planner at