The Christchurch Urban Design Panel is a group of leading built-environment professionals who provide free, independent design review for both the private and public sectors, to support the quality rebuild of Christchurch.

Private developers are encouraged to submit their plans to the panel for a pre-application review to provide greater certainty at the resource consent application stage. Major urban projects the Council is undertaking will also be submitted to the panel for review.

How the Panel can help

  • Advice is currently provided at no cost to developers, and can assist in achieving high-quality design outcomes
  • The Panel can contribute to a quicker, easier consent process through the early identification of design issues 
  • The Panel can support design-related resource consent non-compliances (e.g. where, in context, the effects of a height breach may be considered appropriate, within the overall design approach.

Working with the Panel

Developers are encouraged to submit their plans to the Panel for a pre-application review, in order to provide greater certainty at the resource consent application stage. The earlier the Panel can review a proposal, the more helpful their advice, and the easier it will be to act on their recommendations.

A Panel review meeting involves a group of three to four Panellists meeting with a developer and discussing their project to understand the design objectives, constraints and outcomes sought. The Panel's recommendations represent its consensus following the review meeting, and will be provided to the applicant within five working days. 

The Christchurch Urban Design Panel is not a decision-making body for resource consent applications. However, its recommendations may be considered among other matters, on balance, by a planner processing a resource consent. Decisions about resource consent applications rest with the Council or the delegated decision-making body (e.g. commissioner). 

For further information, please refer to the following documents:

Projects for the Panel

As a general guide, projects that meet the following criteria can be taken to the Christchurch Urban Design Panel. In some instances, significant projects that fall outside these areas can be taken to the Panel voluntarily by the owner/developer. 

Please discuss with a Council planner or Council Urban Design staff member whether your project meets the following criteria and whether it would benefit from a design review by the Panel: 

  1. Proposals that require a resource consent from the Christchurch City Council for a restricted discretionary, discretionary or non-complying activity, and that trigger a requirement for an urban design assessment, and:
    • Are for a residential, commercial or community activity and meets one or more of the following: 
      • Is a residential development with eight or more residential units
      • Is a mixed-use development with three or more residential units
      • Is a new building, or an extension to a building greater than 100m², or includes substantive changes to a key building façade, within the Commercial Central City, Commercial Core or Commercial Local Zones.
    • Are considered to be of significance by a Principal Urban Design Advisor in respect to one or more of the following matters relating to its context:
      • Scale and potential adverse effects either on users or the activities that take place on the site
      • Location and potential adverse effects on surrounding areas/ public spaces/ environment
      • Potential adverse effects on the local community or the general public.
  2. Christchurch City Council capital projects with a value of $2.5 million or greater, and/or any major infrastructure project intended for public use, or to which the public has regular access.
  3. On the advice of a Principal Urban Design Advisor, the Panel will also review:
    • Christchurch City Council projects and resource consents, to ensure the Council demonstrates best practice in its own development projects 
    • Christchurch City Council policy and strategy work, such as plan changes, design guides or structure plans, to ensure the professional opinions of the design and development communities are taken into account.

Further information


    Panellists were selected following an open call for expressions of interest in late 2016. They are leading practitioners and academics from the following core disciplines, and also bring specialist areas of expertise:

    • urban design
    • architecture
    • landscape architecture
    • property.

      Each Panel meeting will include four panellists drawn from the larger pool, to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest and to allow for specialist advice when needed.