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

 Design review process flowchart

Design review process (select to enlarge)

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). 

Further information:

Triggers for design review by the Panel

A series of triggers identify proposals that – due to their scale, complexity and/or sensitivity of their location – would benefit from independent design review. In addition, the triggers reflect the parts of the District Plan where urban design control applies.

The Panel shall consider proposals that meet the following criteria:

  1. Proposals that require a resource consent from Christchurch City Council for a restricted discretionary, discretionary or non-complying activity, and that trigger a requirement for an urban design assessment that:
    1. Is for a residential, commercial or community activity and meets one or more of the following:
      • a residential development with eight or more residential units
      • a mixed-use development with three or more residential units
      • a new building or an extension to a building that includes substantive changes to a key building façade, within the Commercial Central City, Commercial Core or Commercial Local Zones.
    2. Is considered to be of significance by a Principal Urban Design Advisor or Urban Design Team Leader, in respect to one or more of the following matters relating to its context:
      • scale and potential adverse effects on either 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 or Urban Design Team Leader, the Panel may 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.

Where the applicant wishes to take a proposal to the Panel that does not fit the criteria outlined above, Council staff will consider whether it is of a scale and complexity that warrants design review.

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.