21 Sep 2022

Christchurch mayor asks minister not to enforce housing density rules in city

5:52 pm on 21 September 2022
Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the council did not think the government should adopt a one-size fits all approach to address the housing shortage. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The Christchurch mayor has written to the minister for the environment asking him not to intervene to enforce denser housing rules in Christchurch.

Last week the Christchurch City Council voted against a change to the city plan, which would have brought it in line with the government's new housing density rules.

Under the new rules, Christchurch would be required to allow three-storey residences to be developed in many parts of the city.

In the letter, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said she was aware that the council was now technically in breach of its statutory obligations and that there were powers available for ministers to intervene, but asked the minister not to do so.

The Resource Management Act could be used for by the government to appoint someone to notify the plan, and the Local Government Act has the provision for commissioners to be brought in or other methods of intervention.

Dalziel said the council was supportive of the government aims to address the housing shortage and enable the delivery of a wider range of housing options.

However, she said the council did not support a one-size-fits-all approach and believed that Christchurch needed a solution which took into account all that had occurred in the city since the earthquakes.

"Christchurch's district plan was completely rewritten after the earthquakes, and that's why more intense development was allowed around our major centres, public transport routes, and in the central city. So a blanket free-for-all across the city isn't going to work here."

The city's environment and planning arrangements were quite different to Auckland and Wellington, and the city had ample land zoned for urban development, Dalziel said.

"Christchurch already has residential medium densities within our city framework which other cities don't have. I think looking at what we've got, and then seeing if there is any additional capacity required, is the way to go."

The city was also already facing the impact of a reducing tree canopy, she said.

"I've now written and said the city wants to develop a bespoke approach to housing intensification. We'd like the [government and council] officials to be able to work with each other, so the incoming council can hit the ground running."

Dalziel said she hoped council received an answer before next Thursday when it broke up for the election period.

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