The Land Use Recovery Plan ("LURP") emerged from the need to open up more opportunities for housing and business following the Canterbury earthquakes. The LURP, which took effect on 6 December 2013, provides the framework for residential and business land use development within the metropolitan urban area of Christchurch and greater Christchurch until 2028.

The LURP directed the Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri and Selwyn District Councils and Canterbury Regional Council to make changes to district plans, the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement and other planning instruments through a series of 50 actions detailed in the LURP.

Some of these changes required by the LURP have taken immediate effect through direct amendments to objectives, policies and methods in the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement, and rules in the Christchurch City Council's District Plan, the Waimakariri District Plan, and Selwyn District Plan.

Other changes directed by the LURP to district plans and other policy instruments will be made over time by the relevant Councils.

Not surprisingly residential development is a key focus of the LURP. Amendments to district plans which have immediate effect allow for residential intensification in existing areas. For example the Christchurch Council District Plan has been amended to allow for development of residential units on sites made vacant by the earthquake.

The LURP has also introduced mechanisms (which are immediately available) to facilitate residential development, including the "enhanced development mechanism" for sites over 1,500m2. The purpose of the enhanced development mechanism is to enable higher density development, such as town houses or terrace houses, within existing residential areas. Specific criteria, detailed in the Christchurch City District Plan, must be satisfied for a site to qualify to use this particular mechanism. Other immediately available initiatives include opportunities for "exemplar" medium density housing developments, whereby developers work with Councils to effectively provide models for future development in the form of affordable medium density housing.

The LURP also identified 'greenfield priority areas' for new residential subdivision and directed amendments to District Plans to immediately rezone identified areas, including in Prebbleton, Rolleston, Lincoln and Rangiora.

Additionally, the LURP provides for business recovery, including by identifying "Key Activity Centres" (including Rolleston & Lincoln in the Selwyn District, Haswell & Hornby in Christchurch, and Rangiora & Kaiapoi in Waimakariri) as focal points for commercial and service activities supporting communities. These Key Activity Centres are intended to consolidate and integrate the growth of business, retail, recreation and community activities. Further to this, the Councils are required to amend their District Plans to provide for zoning that defines the extent of each Key Activity Centre.

The LURP also provides opportunities for the use of vacant "brownfield" sites (abandoned or underused business or industrial land) for residential, mixed-use or business development. This opportunity will be given effect through changes to District Plans.

Other ways in which the LURP provides for business recovery, is by identifying "greenfield priority areas" in Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri, with the necessary changes in zoning being affected through changes made to the relevant District Plans.

The LURP therefore provides immediate opportunities for development to occur. In addition, the LURP directs the Councils to make changes to planning instruments to provide for future development for both residential and business purposes. This process for amending District Plans is currently underway. Unlike the measures which have taken immediate effect under the LURP, there will be further opportunity for public consultation in relation to some of these District Plan changes. We are seeing this already with the Christchurch City Council's District Plan Review, where the public has had the opportunity to provide 'feedback' on proposed changes (prior to a formal notification period later this year).

Importantly the LURP provides immediate opportunities for developers through novel mechanisms and initiatives. In addition, with the Councils being required to develop the details of some LURP measures through plan change processes, then there will be continued opportunities for public consultation and submissions.

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