Land and Land Use Programme

The Land and Land Use Programme has been set up to ensure sufficient land for housing displaced residents and new workers, and for businesses to recover and grow. Land zoning decisions need to provide certainty to Government and greater Christchurch residents about future earthquake and natural hazard resilience.

As more information becomes available on the state of land and building and infrastructure performance, decisions are being made about where, when, and how to rebuild. The future treatment and use of land that is no longer suitable for urban, residential or commercial use needs to be worked out together with the community.

Land is needed for the development of housing, strategic infrastructure and community facilities to meet the needs of residents and visitors in greater Christchurch. Some land has been rezoned for new subdivisions and released to the market already.

Objectives of the programme

  • Support the development of land within greater Christchurch including ensuring sufficient land is available for the rebuild and the recovery of infrastructure.
  • Decisions for red zoning or green zoning properties are based on the best land hazard information available.

Key projects

Land Use Recovery Plan

The Land Use Recovery Plan has been approved by the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and was gazetted on 6 December 2013.

The Land Use Recovery Plan looks at the impacts of the earthquakes on residential and business land use, and puts land use policies and rules in place to assist rebuilding and recovery of housing and business.

View the Land Use Recovery Plan »

Land zoning

Assessments on the state of the land damage across greater Christchurch are helping to make zoning policy decisions regarding where land can be rebuilt on, and under what circumstances. It is important to make the right zoning decisions based on the best information available to provide property owners with confidence. The criteria that Government has used to assess whether land is suitable to be remediated are:

  • individual properties are repairable with certainty,
  • disruption to residents is minimal,
  • solutions are timely and cost effective, and
  • risk to health and wellbeing is low.

As of January 2012, over 180,000 residential properties have met these criteria and been zoned green allowing individual property owners to proceed with repairs and rebuild plans as part of the normal insurance process. An FAQ and guidance has been prepared to understand the zoning approach and green zone technical categories.

Red zone areas covering more than 7,860 residential properties have been created where there is area-wide land damage. In these places an engineering solution would not meet the criteria above. Red Zoned property owners have been offered a government purchase package.

Land supply

CERA, working with councils, will monitor land supply for residential and commercial development.

Where there are barriers to getting land and developing it, CERA will work with Councils, developers and infrastructure providers to ensure it can be market-ready as soon as possible. View information about CER Act interventions to achieve this.

To accommodate the resettlement of people from damaged lands as well as future population growth, infrastructure and efficient planning and consenting processes are required.

Geotechnical assessments for subdivisions

The Recovery Strategy requires a geotechnical assessment with any application for a plan change or resource consent application involving subdivision of land. This is to ensure that land for housing and other rebuilding meets the minimum technical requirements.

The geotechnical assessment must be in accordance with the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment's guidance Repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes. The guidance has recently been updated and the latest version should be used. This guidance is issued under section 175 of the Building Act, and supersedes all earlier versions. It provides robust and well-balanced engineering solutions for repairing and rebuilding earthquake-damaged houses in the Canterbury region.

If you are involved in a subdivision project, please contact Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council or Waimakariri District Council for advice on how the geotechnical assessment requirement applies to a particular subdivision project.

CERA, working with Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council and Waimakariri District Council has prepared the following responses to common queries about the Recovery Strategy requirement for geotechnical assessment.

Fact Sheet: Recovery Strategy requirement for geotechnical assessments with resource consent applications or plan change requests for subdivision

1. Requirement for on-site testing

The Guidelines require on-site testing in every case. The Guidelines provide options for the type of on-site testing which can then be tailored to the potential risk identified in a desktop study. For example, in areas where liquefaction risk is low, the investigations required by the guidelines are targeted to the normal geotechnical issues of stability and foundation capacity and can be shallower and simpler than in areas where liquefaction risk is higher.

The guideline states that the judgement on the appropriate type of on-site testing is required to be made by a suitably qualified and experienced geotechnical engineer (CPEng). Existing well borehole data may inform this judgement and the type of on-site testing, but does not replace the requirement for on-site testing in accordance with the Guidelines.

2. Geotechnical assessment additional to existing requirements for geotechnical information in the RMA, district plans or Council codes of practice

The new requirement to provide a geotechnical assessment does not substitute for existing RMA requirements, district plan provisions or the Council’s code of practice requirements for geotechnical information with applications. The clause says that “as a minimum” a geotechnical assessment must be provided. Additional information to address requirements of the RMA, district plans, engineering codes of practice or design standards related to hazard risk, geotechnical issues or other matters must continue to be provided with applications.

3. The Council’s response if a geotechnical assessment is not provided with the resource consent application or request for plan change

The requirement in the Recovery Strategy to provide a geotechnical assessment forms part of the District Plan (through section 15 and 26 of the CER Act). A geotechnical assessment in accordance with the Guidelines therefore forms part of the prescribed information required to be provided with an application for resource consent or a request for a plan change for subdivision. If a geotechnical assessment is not included with the application, the council will reject the application as incomplete.

Re-evaluation of existing planning documents

Existing planning documents will be re-evaluated,  taking account of the residential red zone decisions and any changes in demand for types of housing and an increase in the short-term demand for housing. It will consider new land hazard information to confirm where residential and commercial building is and is not appropriate. Guidance will be provided on the conditions for land and building development so that homes and business premises are well-designed and more resilient to future natural hazards. See Land Use Recovery Plan above.

Consideration of the future long-term use of red zone land

The future long-term use of red zone land will be considered once a substantial proportion of the land has been transferred to the Crown. An assessment of future land use options will be led by CERA and consider a broad range of matters including hazard risk, opportunities for economic return, natural features and ecology of the land and adjacent waterways, and consistency with urban growth policies for greater Christchurch set out under the Regional Policy Statement, in particular Chapter 12A. Interim land management will be the responsibility of Land Information New Zealand and CERA.

Residential red zone land clearance programme

CERA is overseeing the clearance of residential red zone properties. The work has three-stages over two to three years. First, built structures and services need to be removed, followed by land clearance and grassing, then the removal of unnecessary public infrastructure. Wherever possible, land treatment decisions will preserve significant trees and not compromise future land use options.

Extra information

Find the land status, news, updates and questions and answers related to your home, zone and local community.

View the crown offer to purchase insured residential property in the residential red zone.