Information about specific planning requirements if you are building for older persons housing.

Under the Christchurch District Plan

An older persons housing unit is accommodation that is intended only for use by elderly people.

The District Plan recognises that older persons housing units can be accommodated on smaller sites without affecting the character of the area, so these units are eligible for some exemptions from the usual rules for residential units in the Residential Suburban, Residential Suburban Density Transition, Residential Hills, Residential Large Lot, Residential Small Settlement and Residential New Neighbourhood zones. 

Older persons housing units must be a maximum of 120m² gross floor area to qualify for these exemptions.

To ensure that only older people occupy the units, the Proposed Replacement District Plan requires that a legal encumbrance be placed on the certificate of title.

The Proposed Replacement District Plan defines an older person as:

  • a person who is over the age of 60; or
  • a person who qualifies for a permanent supported living payment on health grounds.

The partner, spouse, dependants, or caregiver of an eligible older person also qualify to live in an older person's housing unit.

Older person's housing unit encumbrances

The encumbrance required by the Christchurch District Plan must be registered on the certificate of title of the property before construction of the units commences. It provides notice to owners and potential purchasers that the accommodation is for people who meet the Christchurch District Plan definition of an older person only.

The Council arranges for preparation and registration of the encumbrance on the certificate of title, in conjunction with your own solicitor. To request an encumbrance for a family flat, please fill out the application form: Request for encumbrance (Form P-011) [Doc [DOC, 213 KB] 218KB or PDF [PDF, 42 KB] 44KB]

Building work is unable to commence until the encumbrance is registered on the title, so to avoid delays, it is recommended that you submit the request for encumbrance form and the fee either before or when you submit any application for building consent.

Encumbrance fees

Refer to the Resource Management schedule of fees(external link) for registration and discharge of encumbrances. Please note that these fees do not include your own solicitor's fees. The preparation of the encumbrance or discharge document is done in consultation with your solicitor, as it is a legal document.

Conversion of older person's units for general occupation

An Older Person's unit that was existing on 6 December 2013 can be converted into a residential unit that can be occupied by anyone, if certain requirements are met. This is one of the housing intensification measures introduced by the Land Use Recovery Plan(external link) (LURP), which was approved by the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery in December 2013.

Converting an Elderly Persons Housing Unit into a residential unit in the Residential Suburban, Suburban Density Transition zones [PDF, 47 KB] [PDF 63KB]

After a unit has been converted, the owner can request the removal (discharge) of the encumbrance from the certificate of title using the form: Request for Discharge of Encumbrance: Older Persons Housing Unit Conversion (Form P-014a PDF [PDF, 61 KB] 59KB or Doc [DOC, 288 KB] 268KB).

Please note: this opportunity for conversion is only available until 30 April 2018.

Contact us

For general enquiries regarding resource consents please contact the Duty Planner at