Overview of building consents for residential, commercial and industrial development, and take-up of vacant land.

As a result of the 2010/2011 earthquakes, the Greater Christchurch region lost a significant number of houses and business premises, including some 7,100 houses within the residential red zone. The Land Use Recovery Plan(external link) (LURP) provides for new households and businesses in greenfield areas as well as opportunities for intensification and infill within existing areas. LURP monitoring indicators (covering land availability, residential and business consents, intensification and business activity) can be found here(external link).

Residential Building Activity

Building activity information provides an indication of the rate and nature of residential development in Christchurch City.

Total new housing and net new housing

In the year ending June 2016, building consents were issued for 3,630 new dwelling units in Christchurch City. Around half of these were rebuilds (i.e. demolition and subsequent rebuild on the same site). In order to measure changes to the city’s housing stock, it is necessary to focus on net new housing, which excludes replacement housing.

In the year ending 30 June 2016, there was a net 2,280 new dwellings units consented for, which was similar to 2015.

The total number of all residential consents (including rebuilds) peaked in 2015, when there were consents issued for 4,340 new dwellings and units. Around half of these were rebuilds (on the same site) meaning the net amount of new housing added to the city’s stock in 2015 was 2,260 dwellings and units.

In the time series beginning 2001, the highest number of net new housing in the city occurred in the year ending June 2004, when there were 2,350 net new dwelling units added to the city stock. Following this, there was a general decline in the number of net new dwelling units prior to the 2010/11 earthquakes, which reflected the local and global recession.

Following the earthquake series, for the two years ending June 2012, there was the lowest amount of net new housing in the time series while the earthquakes were still active and insurance decisions were taking place. Since July 2012, there has been a large increase in the number of consents for both replacement housing and new housing– a reflection of insurance claims being settled, increased demand for housing, and increased migration.

Net new housing and rebuilds since 2001

Net new housing and rebuilds since 2001

Table 2: New Housing by Type since 2001
Year to June   New Units  New Dwellings Total New Dwelling Units Demolitions & Rebuilds (Replacement)  Net New Housing
2001   324   867   1,191  83  1,108
2002   449  996  1,445  94  1,351
2003   326  2,014  2,340  86  2,254
2004   859  1,559  2,418 71  2,347
2005   771  1,417  2,188  76  2,112
2006  773  1,170   1,943 101  1,842
2007   1,191  1,067  2,258  92  2,166
2008   797  885  1,682  95  1,587
2009   389  634  1,023  64  959
2010   300  1,132  1,432  65  1,367
2011   303  765  1,068  154  914
2012   294  698  992  97  895
2013   402  1,282  1,684  472  1,212
2014   711  3,047  3,758  1,635  2,123
2015  1,045  3,295  4,340  2,080  2,260
2016 1,364 2,270 3,634 1,350 2,284

Infill vs Greenfield

As a result of the earthquakes, large areas of existing residential land were red-zoned as the land was considered unsuitable for residential purposes (without substantial remediation). The shift towards increased greenfield development post-earthquakes can be explained by the requirement for replacement residential land, and the availability and appeal of greenfield land for development.

Since the 2010/11 earthquakes, there have been more new residential housing consents issued for greenfield sites than for existing infill sites, although this is starting to ease after peaking at nearly 70% in 2013. In the year to June 2016, 60% (1,260) of net new housing was located within greenfield sites, compared with 39% (890) for infill residential sites. A further 20 consents (<1%) were issued in Banks Peninsula.

Location of building consents since 2001: infill and greenfield

Location of building consents since 2005: infill and greenfield


Area unit location

Five of the top six areas units which have had the highest number of net new housing consents since 2012 include large greenfield areas: Wigram (1,640 consents), Halswell West (940), Prestons (910), Aidanfield (310) and Mairehau North (260). The other area unit in the top six was Avon Loop, located centrally within the Four Avenues, which had 350 net new consents for the four years to June 2016.

For the year ending 30 June 2016, Wigram area unit had the highest net number of consented new housing units at 519, followed by Prestons (325), Halswell West (220), Cathedral Square (100) and Avon Loop (80).

Net new residential housing by area unit, 2016 (year to June)

Net new residential housing by area unit, 2016 (year to June)

Commercial and Industrial Building Activity

The earthquakes resulted in substantial loss of commercial and industrial building stock in Christchurch, particularly in the central city. Around 80% of all commercial buildings in the CBD were demolished.

New Consents and Floorspace

New commercial and industrial building consents had been declining in both number and amount of new floorspace added in the three years prior to the 2010/2011 earthquake series. The year of the February 2011 earthquake resulted in the the lowest level of commercial building activity in the last 15 years.

Since the earthquakes, there has been substantial commercial and industrial development throughout the city as insurance claims are settled and the city's recovery continues. For the five years ending 30 June 2016, there were 1,500 consents for new commercial buildings, with a combined amount of floorspace of nearly 2.15 million square metres. Both the num