A key part of getting any project underway is understanding the rules that determine what you can build and where you can build it. Each local council establishes their own set of rules – a district or city plan – that determines the conditions that must be met when undertaking activities within the area they control. The rules can vary significantly from one council area to another, and even between different areas within the same city.
The rules within Christchurch City can be quite different to those that apply in Rolleston or Rangiora, and even within Christchurch City there are different rules for different residential zones such as the Residential Suburban, Residential Hills and Residential Central City Zones. If you’re in a rural area you may also need approval from Environment Canterbury to undertake activities such as discharging stormwater or installing sewage treatment systems.
Planning rules can cover general requirements such as height limits, building setbacks and parking spaces. In some zones or areas there are very specific rules applying, for example in CCC’s Residential Hills Zone you are not permitted to install roofing materials with a Light Reflectance Value (LRV) exceeding 30%, and in designated ‘Character Areas’ around the city there are very specific rules governing work that can be done around heritage houses.
Ignoring these rules can lead to significant delays in getting your project underway, and may require changes to the design and documentation of your project before work can commence. Using an experienced architect who is familiar with these rules will safeguard you against such surprises. One of the first things we will do when starting work on your project is to consider all the rules that apply to your property so we can bear these in mind right from the first concept plan.
The simplest way of obtaining approval for your project is for us to come up with a design that complies with all of the rules, and in that case the only approval that is usually required is a Project Information Memorandum (PIM) which is a document councils prepare to summarise all the planning rules that apply to a project and to record any non-compliances that need to be addressed.
In some cases you may wish to undertake work that isn’t a permitted activity under the District Plan – for example building closer to boundaries than allowed, or breaching recession planes or height limits. This can often be the case for alteration projects or work on small properties or hill sites where existing conditions may prove too restrictive to allow you to undertake your project as of right.
This is where resource consents come into play – a resource consent is a formal approval for undertaking activities that do not meet the rules of the District Plan. For relatively minor infringements in a residential zone it is usually quite straightforward to obtain a non-notified resource consent as long as you can obtain written approval from affected neighbours.
It is important to have clear and accurate drawings and a detailed summary of all non-compliances and their effects on the environment so that affected neighbours can clearly understand the proposal and determine whether or not to give consent.
Following changes to the Resource Management Act in 2017 some activities that have the approval of affected neighbours now fall under the category of ‘permitted boundary activities’ and you may be able to bypass the resource consent process entirely, saving time and money.
If your neighbours won’t give their approval for activities requiring your resource consent then there are a few options. We can redesign the project to reduce the effect on them so they are willing to give their approval. If they still refuse to sign you can either apply for a notified resource consent or redesign the proposal so it no longer requires resource consent.
We encourage our clients to speak to their neighbours openly about upcoming projects, and to discuss any probably resource consent issues at an early stage so we know whether or not we can anticipate their support.
Chaplin Crooks Architects are very experienced in working with in the Christchurch City, Selwyn District and Waimakariri District areas, and can help you get the most out of your project by working with the individual District Plans for each area, or by guiding you through the resource consent process if this is what is required to achieve what you are after.