Christchurch City Council may put housing intensification plan on hold

Housing in Christchurch. Photo: File / RNZ / Nate McKinnon
Housing in Christchurch. Photo: File / RNZ / Nate McKinnon
Christchurch city councillors may hit pause on an upcoming independent hearings panel process on housing intensification.

The decision to request a pause and extension to the hearings panel on Plan Change 14 will be decided at Wednesday's council meeting (December 6).

It comes after the new Government coalition agreed its intention to make Medium Density Residential Standards optional for councils.

The report to be considered by city councillors includes a recommendation the council ask the minister for the environment to set a new date for resuming the hearings and completing Plan Change 14 by way of Gazette Notice.

The report claims this will enable the council to place Plan Change 14 on hold until legislative changes occur.

"We do not know when those changes will be made, what new direction may be proposed to replace this, nor what, if any, changes may be proposed to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development,” the council report reads.

"In the meantime, the council must continue with Plan Change 14 to meet a Gazette Notice requirement that the council makes a decision by 12 September 2024.

The Independent Hearings Panel, which plays a crucial role in this process, is scheduled to reconvene on January 30 and into February with a total of six further hearing days.

"A quick request to the minister to issue an amended Gazette Notice could avoid the need for that hearing to continue,” it says. 

Plan Change 14 would enable three houses to be built per site, up to three storeys, as directed in the Resource Management Act and National Policy Statement for Urban Development. 

This policy statement requires greater heights and densities of development in and around the central city and commercial centres.

The controversial plan has been heavily criticised by residents groups across the city.

The report says staff will report back to the council when the Government announces its legislative programme and more is known about the nature of the intended changes.