Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan

The Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan will consider how Greater Christchurch can cater for future projected growth and future-proof our urban areas should this growth exceed projections. The plan will also drive productivity; and build resilience to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards. 

 It will broadly aim to:

  • provide a shared view of the key urban issues facing Greater Christchurch and the priorities we need to progress to address them
  • integrate policy, planning and investment decisions across central and local government, as well as across different legislative functions
  • support quality, well-functioning urban areas by identifying areas appropriate for future development and their related infrastructure requirements.


We are developing the spatial plan to give effect to relevant national policy direction. Policies include:

  • the Urban Growth Agenda;
  • the government policy statements on housing and urban development, and land transport;
  • the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020;
  • the emerging Emissions Reduction Plan for Aotearoa New Zealand.

It will also recognise the emerging directions of the resource management system reforms, especially from the proposed Strategic Planning Act which, to date, has indicated the requirement to develop long-term regional spatial strategies..


The spatial plan will build on the extensive work already undertaken to consider the future of Greater Christchurch. This includes the Greater Christchurch Partnership’s recent work to develop

  • Our Space 2018-2048 (a future development strategy under the superseded National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016)
  • Greater Christchurch 2050 – a new strategic framework and vision for Greater Christchurch, which has intergenerational wellbeing at its core and is reflective of community aspirations for the future of the urban area.

The spatial plan will contribute to the vision and outcomes being developed for Greater Christchurch through Greater Christchurch 2050. It will address the priorities identified for the Greater Christchurch Urban Growth Partnership. These outcomes and priorities will strongly guide the development of the spatial plan.


The spatial plan will draw on the comprehensive planning work undertaken by partners, in their  district plans and growth strategies. It will provide a shared view of Greater Christchurch’s future for councils to undertake more detailed planning at a local level. It will also provide useful work and context ahead of a review of the Regional Policy Statement.

Mana Whenua

We are developing the spatial plan in accordance with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and in acknowledgement of Ngāi Tahu rangatiratanga in their respective takiwā. It will provide for the protection of wāhi tapu and opportunities for the restoration of some wāhi taonga.

How the spatial plan fits within the wider planning and policy context for Greater Christchurch

Future urban form

Developing the spatial plan is our first opportunity to reconsider Greater Christchurch’s urban form since the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy was produced during the mid-2000s.

The spatial plan will address how our urban area will change over the next 30 years and beyond, and the policies, investment and other tools required to support the transition from our current urban form.  The diagram below sets out the elements of the spatial plan and the potential tools available to support the achievement of this future urban form.

Transition Pathway

The spatial plan will identify the timing and sequencing of key actions to support the transition of the urban form across the short, medium and long term.

Geographic focus

The Greater Christchurch area encompasses Christchurch and the surrounding areas within the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts – from Rolleston to Rangiora.

The spatial plan will also consider Greater Christchurch’s inter-connections and role within Waitaha / Canterbury and Te Waipounamu / South Island.


The key actions required to implement the spatial plan will be outlined in a joint work programme.

We are evaluating the benefits of different scenarios for how Greater Christchurch could grow and change. This is consistent with good policy development practice

Our approach is also guided by the requirements of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 for preparing a future development strategy, which the spatial plan will represent for Greater Christchurch.

Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan phases of work

Where are we at now?

Our initial focus is on three phases of work – preparing an evidence base, a strategic framework to underpin and guide the spatial plan, and scenarios analysis. The outputs of these phases are summarised in the following documents:

Foundation Report  [PDF, 5.8 MB]

The Foundation Report summarises identification of urban opportunities and challenges, and development of the strategic framework to guide the Spatial Plan. The Foundation Report sets out:

  • The context and approach to the development of the Spatial Plan.
  • An assessment of current state across a range of spatial and wellbeing aspects including the natural environment, people and communities, homes and places, economy and jobs, and access and mobility.
  • An articulation of the opportunities for Greater Christchurch’s urban area which describe why change is required and what needs to be done to achieve it.

Ngā Kaupapa Report  [PDF, 1.5 MB]

The Ngā Kaupapa Report was prepared by Mahaanui Kurataiao on behalf of Mana Whenua, which identifies and describes:

  • The cultural values within the boundary of Greater Christchurch;
  • Relevant cultural principles; and
  • An assessment of relevant Iwi Management Plan policies and other strategy documents to inform and guide the development of the Spatial Plan.

The Ngā Kaupapa Report was prepared to be part of / to inform the Foundation Report. The report’s  main purpose   is to ensure that the Spatial Planning team and partners understand the legal framework underpinning the Treaty partnership and some core Mana Whenua principles and values for the Greater Christchurch area. It is not a representation of Mana Whenua priorities and expectations.

Greater Christchurch Housing Development Capacity Assessment(external link)

The Greater Christchurch Housing Development Capacity Assessment is an assessment of Greater Christchurch’s capacity to meet the projected demand for housing over the next 30 years. 

Further supporting information

Urban form direction to inform engagement with stakeholders and the development of the draft Spatial Plan [PDF, 4.7 MB]

Recent progress on the Spatial Plan has focused on evaluating the urban form scenarios and developing urban form directions. This work will inform our engagement with stakeholders and the development of the draft Spatial Plan. This document includes:

  • the preliminary conclusions from the evaluation of urban form scenarios;
  • the work to investigate a preferred route for Mass Rapid Transit along Riccarton Road and Papanui Road corridors (Mass Rapid Transit Indicate Business Case (IBC) Stage 1); and
  • urban form directions to inform engagement with stakeholders and the development of the draft Spatial Plan.

Next steps?

We are now preparing the draft Spatial Plan. We are keen to share our ideas with the public and hear their feedback in early 2023.  We will do this together with the Mass Rapid Transit and other transport improvement plans. These projects work together and by seeking feedback on them as a package, our residents will get a fuller picture of our possible future.