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3.8 Canterbury Region

3.8 Canterbury Region

3.8.1 Canterbury Regional Policy Statement

Canterbury Regional Council reviewed and verified the questionnaire and summary assessment of the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement.  They requested some amendments and additions which have all been addressed.

3.8.1.1 Context

The Canterbury Region is the largest region in the South Island, and ranks second in size out of the 16 regions of New Zealand.  The Canterbury Region has approximately 521,832 residents, with the population growing by 8.4% between 2001 and 2006. 

The Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) is responsible for a wide variety of functions including public passenger transport, regional biosecurity, river engineering, environmental monitoring and investigations, regional policy and planning, and for considering applications for certain resource consents - land-use consents (including beds of water bodies), coastal permits, water permits, and discharge permits.

Urban design pressures facing Environment Canterbury includes the sprawling nature in the greater Christchurch area, where settlement is getting further and further from the central business district, whilst inner city densities are relatively static.  Environment Canterbury, along with the relevant territorial authorities are attempting to consolidate the greater Christchurch area, and avoid further urban sprawl in the area  This is being addressed through the implementation of the (non-statutory) “Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy.” The Strategy is gaining RMA status through the notification of Plan Change 1 of the RPS.  Local authorities are also preparing responses to the Strategy with plan change and other initiatives to address urban design issues. 

In other part of the region, the pressures are more around maintaining character whilst allowing for development of communities.  As with elsewhere in New Zealand, there are pressure points around certain lakes or holiday areas where a lot of holiday home developments are taking place, creating pressure on services whilst not providing a permanent population to support the services.

3.8.1.2 Plan Provisions

The Canterbury Regional Policy Statement became operative on 5 June 1998.  The following provides a summary of the nature and extent of provisions under the Plan that incorporate and promote the urban design criteria under the questionnaire.

Amenity
The RPS has a low number of provisions that relate to amenity.  However, the RPS recognises that current growth trends are resulting in low density urban form that will not meet the future needs of the people and communities within the Canterbury region.

Commerce
There are no relevant provision under the RPS.

Choice
The RPS currently has no provisions that relate to choice.  It does, however, provide for public access to the coast and other water bodies. 

Through the introduction of Plan Change 1, the RPS recognises that an increasing proportion of residential growth should take place through intensification, in identified areas.  For example, intensification should be encouraged in, and close to, key activity centres and suitable industrial brownfield sites.  The RPS states that territorial authorities should encourage intensification by selecting particular areas to provide for attractive environments for higher density living (through the development of urban intensification plans), whilst providing administrative and financial arrangements to encourage intensification.  Plan Change 1 sets out minimum net densities that should be achieved for residential subdivision and development within the outline plan development areas for individual greenfield and intensification areas. 

Custodianship
The RPS promotes the use of sustainable energy resources and promotes the conservation of efficient energy use.  The RPS has a number of provisions that relate to avoiding the risk to people and property from natural hazards.  These provisions include, but are not limited to, avoiding new development where there are significant adverse effects from natural hazards.  The RPS also contains provisions to avoid effects of hazardous substances.  Provisions are also contained within both the RPS and Plan Change 1 relating to noise mitigation from major infrastructure and reverse sensitivity issues.  

Collaboration
A method is included in the RPS which requires the preparation of strategies to be in co-ordination with district/city councils.  It is noted that Plan Change 1 and the Urban Design Strategy were both major pieces of work that were undertaken collaboratively. 

Character
The RPS has a high number of provisions that relate to the promotion and retention of character, including the protection and enhancement of waterbodies, distinctive landforms and areas of significant vegetation. 

Plan Change 1 introduces an objective that achieves a built environment within Greater Christchurch that has a sense of character and identity, retains heritage values, protects amenity, provides for a range of densities, and are healthy, sustainable and vibrant places to live and work.   

Heritage
The RPS promotes the protection and enhancement of historical and cultural heritage sites.  The RPS enables urban development and the physical expansion of settlements, whilst avoiding, remedying or mitigating effects on heritage values. 

Open Space
There are no relevant provisions under the RPS.

Connectivity
The RPS has a low number of provisions that relate to connectivity.  A policy incorporated in the RPS promotes the need to change movement patterns and travel habits, and to promote a safe and efficient transport infrastructure that reduces the demand for transport.

Plan Change 1 also aims to promote the use of active transport modes.

Urban Growth
Plan Change 1 introduces a number of provisions that provide for the management of urban growth.  Growth, through the RPS, is proposed to be consolidated, whilst protecting the natural environment, and reducing any potential risk to people and property from natural hazards.  As part of Plan Change 1, urban activities are encouraged to be contained with the urban limits, with territorial authorities being encouraged to identify suitable areas for future business growth. 

The RPS makes reference to the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy.

3.8.1.3 Summary

For a regional policy statement, the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement has a moderate number of urban design provisions. Under the operative Regional Policy Statement, 24% of the questionnaire sub-criteria are addressed through the Plan provisions, and this increases to 35% when Plan Change 1 is included. The following graphs illustrate and compare the proportion of those sub-criteria for which the numbers of relevant provisions were high, medium or low, or for which there were no relevant provisions, under the operative RPS, and the RPS with plan changes included.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS

The graphs show the extent to which the sub-criteria have been incorporated in Canterbury Regional Council’s operative RPS and the RPS with plan changes included.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS
The graph of the operative RPS shows that 76% of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.  Twenty four percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria.  These are addressed as follows: 20% at a low weighting, 2% at a medium weighting, and 2% at a high weighting.

Extent of relevant provisions in RPS with plan changes included
The graph of relevant provisions in the RPS with plan changes included shows that 65% of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.  Thirty five percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria. These are addressed as follows: 23% at a low weighting, 10% at a medium weighting, and 2% at a high weighting.

The graphs above show that proposed Plan Change 1 to the RPS has not only increased the number of sub-criteria under the questionnaire which are addressed, but has also increased the extent of provisions addressing each sub-criteria.

The urban design criteria that are well addressed under the RPS and proposed plan change include custodianship, character and urban growth management. 

A number of sub-criteria under amenity, choice, heritage and connectivity are addressed through the RPS. Commerce, collaboration, connectivity and open space are not covered very thoroughly under the RPS. Gaps include no:

  • provisions encouraging a range of building heights and site coverage
  • provisions encouraging water saving devices, crime prevention through environmental design principles, the impact of design on health or the ongoing maintenance of buildings and spaces
  • provisions promoting streetscape design
  • provisions for the type, location and interaction of business within urban areas
  • provisions for the creation of open space.

3.8.2 Timaru District Plan

Timaru District Council reviewed and verified the questionnaire and summary assessment of the Timaru District Plan. They requested some minor additions and amendments all of which have been addressed.

3.8.2.1 Context

The Timaru District is situated along the South Canterbury coastline and covers 2,602 square kilometres of diverse landscape. Approximately 42,870 people live in the Timaru District. This is an increase of 903 people, or 2.2%, since the 2001 Census.  The District’s population ranks 28th in size out of the 73 districts in New Zealand, having approximately 1.1%of New Zealand's population. Timaru township is strategically and centrally located on major transport arteries. Its airport and port facilities provide a central distribution point for South Island exports/ imports. It also has a low density residential environment with a number of heritage buildings throughout the town providing a sense of place unique to Timaru.  Subdivision is limited to infill and the occasional multi-lot development. The retention of the low density residential environment and built heritage are key urban design issues.  The Council has a projected operating income under its 2008/2009 Annual Plan of $56.4 million. This is a per capita income of $1316.00.  Fifty-four per cent of that income comes from rates, 10% from investments, and 36% from other income sources.

3.8.2.2 Plan Provisions

The Timaru District Plan became operative on 8th March 2005.  The following provides a summary of the nature and extent of provisions under the District Plan that incorporate and promote the urban design outcomes under the questionnaire.

Amenity
A number of issues, objectives, policies and rules contained within the Plan restrict the effects of developments which could adversely affect the amenity of an area (e.g.: controls on noise, sunlight access, landscaping, building setback, height restriction and open space).  Different standards apply to different zones.  Objectives and policies contained within the Plan aim to avoid, remedy or mitigate any effects of residential subdivision and development on amenity values, and aim to promote low impact and high quality urban design that is environmentally sustainable.   

Commerce
The Plan contains a number of rules and standards relating to design controls, including ground floor frontage, verandahs, parking, exterior lighting and storage areas.  The Plan also has rules relating to development having to be in accordance with concept and outline development plans.  There is provision in the Plan for home-based businesses.  There are no controls on large format retail.  Council by-laws contain controls relating to active road edges.

Choice
The Plan provides for different allotment sizes within each of the residential zone.  There are no minimum size requirements for the Commercial Zone.  Different permitted heights are provided for the residential, commercial and recreation areas.  There are also different provisions for heights within each of the commercial and recreation areas.  Differing site coverage requirements are required for the Commercial Zone.  Overall, there are a low number of provisions relating to choice, with the Plan allowing one house per a certain square metre (e.g. Residential 1, one house per 300m²) in Residential Zones.

Custodianship
There are a number of provisions relating to custodianship under the Plan.  Provisions included relate to compliance with noise requirements to mitigate any potential effects of noise from the commercial zone on nearby or adjoining residential properties.  A provision specific to the commercial 2 zone requires detailed information to be provided to the Council for any new supermarket.  Information required includes a noise mitigation plan to be prepared, building plans to the provided and the proposed delivery schedule to be made available to the Council.

A number of setback requirements are included in the Plan.  Depending on which commercial or recreation area a site is located in, determines the setback requirements.  Corner sites require their own setback requirements, and there are further restrictions on structures located within 6 metres of an intersection.  

A number of issues and a policy provided for under the Plan encourages public spaces and building design to take into account public safety and security. 

Issues, objectives, policies, rules and other methods have all identified the potential risks of natural hazards, and that potential effects should be avoided.  Restrictions on buildings have been contained within the Plan, for example the restriction of building height.  The zoning of additional land in flood plains for urban purposes is also restricted.  

There were no provisions in the Plan addressing issues of energy efficiency, water saving, low impact stormwater, acoustic insulation or the impact of design on health.

Collaboration
The Plan recognises that increased protection of significant natural areas requires a collaborative approach from landowners, the Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and other agencies and interested groups.

Character
There are a medium number issues, objectives, policies and methods in the Plan that specifically promote the protection and enhancement of water bodies and the identification and protection of distinctive landforms.  There is however, a high number of provisions that relate to the identification, protection and enhancement of indigenous vegetation.  Methods include implementing publicity programmes at raising awareness, offering rate relief for areas covenanted for conservation protection, identifying significant trees with a marker or protective barrier and including a schedule of significant trees in the Plan. 

There are a high number of provisions that aim to retain a 'sense of place', and a low number that promote a sense of place.  Issues, objectives and policies aim to enhance the visual appearance of surroundings, and retain residential character and amenity throughout the District.  One general method is for revitalisation programmes to be developed that will enhance the existing character of selected commercial areas.  

Heritage
The Plan has a relatively high number of provisions that relate to the protection of heritage values within commercial areas and private heritage buildings (not in commercial areas) specifically, and under district wide provisions.  Protection includes:

  • protection and enhancement
  • protection from development
  • protecting heritage character and visual quality. 

The Plan also states that the New Zealand Historic Places Trust is considered to be an affected party when considering an application for a heritage building or structure.

A range of measures have been suggested in the Plan that encourage sympathetic development of a historic place, including funds, waivers of fees, grants supplying information to the public, landowners and developers to increase the awareness of heritage values, and promoting revitalisation through
the LTCCP.

Open Space
There is a high level of provisions to provide for open space, and for the promotion of better designed streets through the undergrounding of overhead lines

There are no relevant provisions under the Plan which relate to open spaces being associated and integrated with stormwater provisions.

Connectivity
There are a medium number of provisions that recognise and provide for different uses of road networks.  One method under the Plan suggests that cycle lanes on some roads be provided, and that high standards of roads be developed, whilst maintaining pedestrian flows.  A rule under the Plan requires that a work place travel plan be provided to all staff working at a shopping complex located in the commercial 2 zone, which should promote an alternative means of travelling to work. 

There are no relevant provisions under the Plan that facilitate green networks that link public and private open space or that promote environments that encourage people to become more physically active.

Urban Growth
There are few specific provisions that relate to the management of urban growth, structure plans, the reuse of brownfield sites, or collaboration with other councils. 

3.8.2.3 Summary

The Timaru District Plan has a medium number of urban design provisions. Under the District Plan, 57% of the questionnaire sub-criteria are addressed through the Plan provisions. The following graph illustrates the proportion of those sub-criteria for which the number of relevant provisions was high, medium or low, or for which there were no relevant provisions.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS

Extent or relevant provisions in operative District Plan
The graph shows the extent to which the sub-criteria have been incorporated in Timaru District Council’s District Plan.  Fifty seven percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria.  These are addressed as follows: 23% at a low weighting, 22% at a high weighting, and 12% at a medium weighting.  Forty three percent of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.

The above graph shows that there were a ‘high’ or ‘medium’ number of provisions under the Timaru District Plan addressing approximately one-third of the sub-criteria, and approximately a quarter of the sub-criteria there were between one and four relevant provisions.

The following urban design criteria are addressed well under the Plan: amenity, commerce, choice, custodianship and character and heritage.

Most assessment criteria under heritage, open space and connectivity are addressed through the Plan. However, there are few provisions relevant to collaboration and urban growth management. Gaps include no:

  • maximum parking controls,
  • management of large retail format
  • encouragement of sustainable energy and water saving devices and low impact stormwater devices
  • integrated management of stormwater and open spaces, and no definition of public/private boundaries
  • specific provisions encouraging physical activity.

3.8.3 Mackenzie District Plan

Mackenzie District Council was sent the questionnaire and summary assessments for the Mackenzie District Plan, but chose not to provide feedback.

3.8.3.1 Context

By population, the Mackenzie District has the lowest population density in New Zealand with a usual resident population of 3801 (2006 Census). The population of the district increased by 2.3% between 2001 and 2006. The area of the district is large comprising 7440km2.  With its spectacular scenery and popularity with visitors, there is potential for development pressure providing for accommodating visitors and residents to service to increase. Depending on how these are designed and developed this may have a positive or negative impact on the attractiveness of existing townships.  The Mackenzie District Council has a projected income under its 2008/2009 Annual Plan of $12,214 million, 40% of that income coming from rates and 60% coming from other sources. 

3.8.3.2 Plan Provisions

The Mackenzie District Plan became operative in 2004. There is one plan change (Plan Change 5 - Residential 1 and 2 Zones) which is of relevance to this study. The following provides a summary of the nature and extent of provisions under the Plan and the proposed plan change that incorporates and promotes the urban design outcomes under the questionnaire.

Amenity
The Plan includes a large number of amenity provisions, particularly within the residential and business zones. These provisions include visual amenity, design and appearance, landscaping and maintaining the pleasantness of areas.

Commerce
The Plan includes provisions relating to all commerce sub-categories. These provisions are not overly prescriptive. The Business Zone provisions include policies and rules on providing mixed-use opportunities in town and neighbourhood centres, design controls to enhance shopping, walking and living experiences in towns and neighbourhood centres, and the management of large format retail.

Home-based businesses are permitted in residential zones.

Choice
There are no provisions in the Plan to allow increasing densities in association with the provision of open space, maximum parking standards, ensuring public space is accessible, provision for a variety of housing types and section sizes, and the provision of higher density subdivision and development around town centres and public transport nodes.

The Plan does include a number of provisions which permit a variety of maximum building heights in the business and residential zones. Plan Change 5 proposes to include a new rule relating to permitted maximum building heights.

The Plan specifies site coverage standards in the residential zone which can affect housing density and design.

Custodianship
The Plan does not include provisions on renewable energy, water saving devices, noise mitigation measures to reduce noise from major infrastructure, the on-going care and maintenance of buildings or crime prevention through environmental design.

The Plan does include provisions on noise mitigation to reduce noise from town centres in the business zone.

There are a number of provisions within the Plan aimed at considering buildings in relation to the street. These, however, only apply to the business zone and not specifically to residential buildings.

There are a number of provisions applicable to the whole district and specific provisions for the business and residential zones which focus on avoiding and mitigating the effects of hazards. These provisions include avoiding flood prone land and minimum floor levels for buildings.

There is one district-wide rule on the provision of outdoor living space.

Collaboration
There are no relevant provisions within the Plan.

Character
There are a number of provisions within the Plan which both aim to ‘retain’ and ‘promote’ a sense of place, particularly in the business zone.

No other character sub-categories are addressed under the Plan.

Heritage
There are a number of district-wide provisions on responding to heritage values. These provisions include identifying and protecting important heritage items, actively supporting owners with property which has a protected item located on it, and requiring resource consent as a discretionary activity for any demolition, removal or alteration of identified heritage sites.

Open Space
The Plan includes a number of provisions to provide for open space, particularly in the open space and recreation zone. These provisions include the provision of active and passive recreation areas and permitting associated activities within the zone.

There are no provisions within the Plan that promote better designed streets, open space areas associated with stormwater, utilities and streets or having clear boundaries between public and private open space.

Connectivity
There are few connectivity provisions within the Plan. Two provisions are provided within the business zone that promote walking and cycling.

There are a number of provisions within the open space and recreation zone that provides for environments to encourage people to become more physically active, including walkways and recreation opportunities.

Plan Change 5 proposes a rule that specifies that direct access to the state highway from the residential zone is a discretionary activity.

There are no provisions within the Plan to reduce the level of vehicular traffic that encourage safe, attractive and secure pathways and links between landmarks and neighbourhoods or streets that are designed as positive spaces with multiple functions.

Urban Growth
There are no relevant provisions within the Plan.

3.8.3.3 Summary

The Mackenzie District Plan has a relatively low number of urban design provisions. Under the District Plan, 36% of the questionnaire sub-criteria are addressed through the Plan provisions. Plan Change 5 does not increase this percentage. The following graph illustrate and compare the proportion of those sub-criteria for which the numbers of relevant provisions were high, medium or low, or for which there were no relevant provisions, under the District Plan.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS

Extent of relevant provisions in operative District Plan
The graph shows the extent to which the sub-criteria have been incorporated in Mackenzie District Council’s District Plan.  Sixty four percent of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.  Thirty six percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria.  These are addressed as follows: 24% at a low weighting, 8% at a high weighting, and 4% at a medium weighting. 

The above graph shows that over half of the sub-criteria under the questionnaire are not addressed under the Mackenzie District Plan.

The urban design outcome that is well provided for within the Plan is amenity.

Most assessment criteria under, choice, custodianship, character, heritage, open space and connectivity are addressed through the Plan. Collaboration and urban growth management are not covered at all under the Plan. Gaps include no:

  • allowance for increased densities in association with the provision of open space
  • maximum parking standards
  • provisions to require public spaces are accessible to everyone
  • provision of a variety of housing types
  • provision of a variety of section sizes
  • provision of higher density development around town centres and public transport nodes
  • renewable energy, water saving, or low impact or integrated stormwater design rules or guidelines
  • Crime prevention through environmental design provisions
  • provisions addressing ongoing maintenance requirements for buildings and spaces,
  • provisions involving the community in decision making, or using private/public partnership
  • collaboration provisions
  • provisions which promote a ‘sense of place’
  • non-regulatory incentives to protect or maintain heritage items
  • policy and standards to promote better designed streets and streetscape and promote as open spaces with public surveillance
  • limited provisions for encouraging green networks, or designing streets to have multiple functions
  • urban growth management