Plan Changes

What is a Plan Change?

A plan change is a formal process under the Resource Management Act 1991 to change one or more provisions of the District Plan, including the objectives, policies, rules and zoning of land.

Plan changes can be privately or Council initiated and typically follow a similar process of assessment and public notification before decisions are made.

Matters to consider when preparing a private plan change

  • Plans (layout, roads, servicing, open space areas).
  • Reasoning to the change.
  • Consider the benefits to the change and efficiency and effectiveness of the change.
  • Proposed environmental effects and how can the effects be mitigated?
  • Requirements under the Resource Management Act 1991 in particular Part 2 of the 1st Schedule and Section 32.
  • Consultation with Council staff, including Regional Council (Environment Canterbury).
  • Site-specific details, including flooding, Geotechnical reports.
  • Servicing - water, sewerage, stormwater disposal, drainage and roading services can be provided for the development or prepare provisions that will limit development until services are available.
  • Consultation with a private planning consultant, including gaining expert advice to support your proposal.
  • Consultation with surrounding properties.
  • Overall cost.

Process of a Private Plan change

  1. The applicant lodges a private plan change request to Council.
  2. The Council processes the request and can request further information and commission reports if necessary.
  3. If the Council subsequently considers that there is insufficient information to process the private plan change request, it may reject the request or not approve the plan change sought.
  4. The Council may modify the application with the agreement from the applicant.
  5. After receiving all the necessary information, the Council has 30 working days to decide whether to adopt, accept, or reject the plan change request, or convert the request to a resource consent.
    NOTE: For more information on the meaning of adopt, accept, or reject a plan change request, please see Quality Planning website at:
  6. The Council publicly notifies a request if adopted or accepted, allowing submissions and further submissions to then be made.
  7. The Council holds a hearing where it assesses the request and submissions made and then issues a decision on the request.
  8. The Council decision is open to appeal to the Environment Court.

How Long Does a Plan Change Take?

The process takes approximately two years. Depending on the complexity of the change and the issues it addresses, the process could take longer.


The applicant or any other person party to the plan change can appeal the decision to the Environment Court if not satisfied with the decision made by the Council (or independent commissioner(s) appointed by the Council).

Previous Plan Changes in process or complete

The Waimakariri District Plan became operative on 28 November 2005. Please see the flowing links for Council plan changes and Private plan changes pages for the status of any changes to the District Plan.


If you are thinking of lodging a private plan change, the Council offers a Project Advisory Group (PAG) service. This is where the applicant and their consultants can meet with Council staff at an early stage to discuss key details and requirements related to a proposed plan change. To request a 'PAG' simply email

Key matters Council may help with during a PAG meeting

  1. Provide local knowledge on services, constraints and environmental issues.
  2. Application fee cost.
  3. District Plan and RMA requirements.
  4. Other plan changes and major resource consent applications have been approved in nearby areas.
  5. Advice on whom to consult.