Proposed District Plan - FAQs

The District Plan shapes our future both as a community and individually. It regulates what we can and can’t do on our properties and also influences how our district will look in coming years – for instance, where to expect more housing, business and industrial development and how we’ll protect and manage special places like our coastline and heritage items. It ensures well planned and organised growth and gives the community, business and property owners a greater level of certainty about what they can do, and where.

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) every local authority in New Zealand must have a District Plan.

There are a variety of ways the District Plan affects you. If you own land, the District Plan controls what type of activities you can do on that land. For example, what you can build and how high, and certain aspects of design. It also controls things like whether you can subdivide land and how much noise you can make. District Plan zoning determines what can happen next door and in your neighbourhood.

Release of the Proposed District Plan gives you the opportunity to have your say and potentially influence how the new District Plan might manage these things in the future.

The Operative District Plan was made operative in 1999. Our City has changed a lot since then and our current plan is out of date. We are also required by law to review our District Plan every ten years.

The Government has also amended legislation and introduced many new national policies and regulations in recent years that we must give effect to through our District Plan.

Some sections of the District Plan have immediate legal effect. These are the sections on Historic Heritage, Sites of Significance to Maori and Significant Natural Areas.

There is a submissions and hearing process to go through before the plan is fully operative with all sections taking immediate legal effect, and this typically takes at least two years (i.e. not until 2022).

A rule in a proposed plan generally has legal effect once a decision on submissions relating to the rule is made by the council and it is publicly notified.

Look at the Proposed District Plan maps. You can find these on our ePlan.

Rules relating to subdivision and minimum allotment size are found in the subdivision chapter. This is located in Part 2: District Wide Matters. SUB-S1 has a list of minimum lot sizes depending on what zone you are in.

It is important to note that all subdivision requires resource consent. However, there is a spectrum of consents ranging from controlled to non-complying. Broadly speaking, controlled is the most straight forward resource consent to apply for as these must be granted by Council, whereas non-complying is where subdivision is generally being avoided, and consents are only granted in exceptional circumstances.

If you want to create lots smaller than this minimum, see the relevant rule in the subdivision chapter for what type of consent is required. You should also check if your property has any other planning considerations such as landscapes, significant natural areas or natural hazards as this may change what type of consent is required.

For instance:

  • Creating lots 2ha in size in the Rural Lifestyle Zone is generally a controlled activity
  • Creating lots 2ha in size in the Rural Lifestyle Zone within a Special Amenity Landscape would be a discretionary activity
  • Creating lots 2ha in size in the Rural Lifestyle Zone where a building platform is to be built in a stream corridor would be a non-complying activity.

District Plans require a large amount of evidence and technical information to support their direction and provisions. This information can be found on our supporting information webpage.

You can print the Proposed District Plan by using the print function at the top left hand corner of each chapter e.g.: Subdivision Chapter

print guide 2

You will have the option to either print specific chapters or the full Plan. If you have any issues printing feel free to get in touch via email -

This is a report that evaluates the costs and benefits of the proposed District Plan, as required by section 32 of the RMA. A separate evaluation report has been written for each topic. The reports help plan readers understand why a particular approach was taken to a topic. It is also a record of the decision-making process, and shows how the approach to a topic has been developed.

A recent Government commissioned report recommended that the Resource Management Act be repealed and replaced, which would mean plans prepared under it (including District Plans) would need to be replaced also. The Government has yet to advise on next steps, and the process of replacing the RMA is likely to take several years and with a long transition period to a new regime. The District Plan is therefore likely to be in place for several years to come. 

A District Plan is a planning framework that sets out the objectives, policies and rules for how land can be developed, used and managed and applies to all public and private property. It is prepared in accordance with the Resource Management Act, and is not a plan setting out what projects Council will be undertaking or what activities Council will be investing in. 

The Long Term Plan sets out the projects and activities Council will be undertaking and investing in based on priorities, and how we expect to fund these activities over the next 20-years. A Long Term Plan is a requirement under the Local Government Act and is updated every three years in consultation with the community and stakeholders. Councils are also required to produce Asset Management Plans (AMPs) and an Infrastructure Strategy which in turn inform the Long-term Plan.

Annual plans are produced every year between long-term plans. Annual plans give us the opportunity to refresh information and budgets for the coming year, and include the setting of rates.