The Council had started to review the District Plan, however this was interrupted by the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes. To enable recovery and development, the Government directed a new process to fast track the plan review process.

The unique process used for developing the proposed Christchurch Replacement District Plan was set out in the Canterbury Earthquake (Christchurch Replacement District Plan) Order 2014 (Order in Council). The Order in Council was made under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 (CER Act).

Included in the new process was a direction that an Independent Hearings Panel (IHP), rather than Council, would make decisions on the replacement plan.

The Order in Council

  • Directed that decisions are to be made by an Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) instead of the Council.
  • Set out a faster, more streamlined process for drafting, hearing submissions and making decisions on the replacement Christchurch District Plan (compared to the normal Schedule 1 process under the Resource Management Act 1991).
  • Determined what the replacement Christchurch District Plan must include (in a Statement of Expectations).
  • Prevents the Council from making any changes to the District Plan until June 2021.

Statement of Expectations

The Statement of Expectations, included:

  • Reducing planning requirements (fewer rules, resource consents and notification of applications).
  • Consistency with the Recovery Plans.
  • Facilitating a high quality recovery and rebuild (increased supply and intensification of housing, increased business opportunities, and allowing for temporary earthquake activities).
  • Clear direction on management of risks from natural hazards.
  • The Plan being easy to use with clear, concise language.

Council planners and experts provided evidence and recommendations, along with submitters and experts representing submitters, however the IHP made the final decision.

The Plan was notified in stages, with the first stage being notified on 27 August 2014. The Christchurch District Plan became operative on 19 December 2017. The coastal hazard provisions in the Christchurch City Plan and the Banks Peninsula District Plan still apply.  

The timeline below outlines the process from the formation of the IHP.



IHP members appointed.

August 2014

Stage One proposals publicly notified and open for submissions.

February 2015

First batch of decisions released by the IHP.

May 2015

Stage Two proposals publicly notified and open for submissions.

July 2015

Stage Three proposals publicly notified and open for submissions. 

September 2015

Decision to set aside coastal hazard provisions from the review process.

April 2016

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 (GCRA) replaces the CER Act, and extends the expiry date of the OIC from December 2016 to June 2021.

December 2016

All IHP hearings completed and decisions made.


Minor corrections decisions by the IHP (final minor corrections decision released in November 2017).

October 2017

All appeals to the High Court on points of law resolved.

December 2017

All parts of the Replacement District Plan became operative (excluding coastal hazard provisions), becoming The Christchurch District Plan.

June 2021

Greater Christchurch Recovery Act expires, prohibition on plan changes expires, and the Council is required to apply the RMA in a way that is consistent with Recovery/Regeneration Plans also ends.

The numbers

  • 4848 submissions considered by the IHP, covering 48,091 submission points.
  • The IHP delivered a total of 134 decisions across all three stages.

More information