Huihui Mai Greater Christchurch – let’s come together to plan our future.

It’s time to come together to plan our future – tell us what you think.  

Take the survey or find out more about other ways to have your say.

Project background

Greater Christchurch is growing fast, and we’ll need to do things a bit differently if we’re going to look after our environment and maintain our quality of life.  

By 2050 more than 700,000 people are projected to be living in the Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts – 30% more people than there are today. Our population could double to 1 million people within the next 60 years, if not earlier.  

Where will people live and work? How will people get around without increasing congestion and travel times? How do we protect and enhance our environment, make our region more resilient, and ensure Greater Christchurch remains one of the greatest places to live? 

We are now asking our community to give their views on how to tackle these future challenges. Your views will help us to get ahead of the game in relation to planning for future growth in Greater Christchurch.

We've had a coordinated approach to urban planning and transport investment in Greater Christchurch since 2007.  The Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy 2007(external link) and Our Space 2018-2048 - Greater Christchurch Settlement Pattern Update(external link) set the framework for urban planning which informs this current work. 

In 2020 Greater Christchurch residents told us that in 2050 they wanted Christchurch to be sustainable, vibrant and safe, with less urban sprawl, more affordable housing and much better transport options lessening our dependence on cars.  See the Engagement Report [PDF, 747 KB] for more details of what the community told us.

We're looking for our community’s feedback again on how we make their aspirations a reality as our population grows and we respond to climate change – how and where will people live and work, how will we get around and how will we protect the environment and what we love about our place? 

Greater Christchurch has a strong foundation to develop a sustainable and modern city where people enjoy a high standard of living.  Read our Foundation Report(external link) if you want to learn more about the strengths we can build on and the challenges we need to address as we plan for the future.

We are preparing a spatial plan for Greater Christchurch which sets the direction for how we accommodate more people in the future in a way which achieves our community’s aspirations.  Alongside this we are also investigating a step-change in our public transport service through a business case for new turn up and go public transport service.

The ambitious plan for Greater Christchurch is being prepared by the Whakawhanake Kāinga Komiti, an Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch.

Local Councils, mana whenua, and the Crown set up the Whakawhanake Kāinga Komiti (Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch), last year (2022) to collectively plan for our future growth.

Together the Partnership will leverage the tools, resources and investment needed to make transformative change in Greater Christchurch regarding housing, land use and infrastructure planning.

The partners include:

  • Mana whenua
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Selwyn District Council
  • Waimakariri District Council
  • Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand
  • Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
  • Crown (led by Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga - Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Kāinga Ora, Te Tari Taiwhenua - Department of Internal Affairs)

The first priority of this Partnership is developing a Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan. The spatial plan is a high-level strategic document that gives effect to national policy directions and responds to the priorities of mana whenua and the aspirations of the community.  

Integrated with this work, we are investigating the potential for a turn-up-and-go public transport service.

The spatial plan provides a shared vision of the partner agencies in the Whakawhanake Kāinga Komiti (Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch) and will be implemented through actions in a joint work programme and through other local and central government planning and investment processes.

From a national perspective

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

  • 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 Emissions Reduction Plan for Aotearoa New Zealand

The plan 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 plans.

From a Greater Christchurch perspective

The plan will build on the extensive work already done to consider the future of Greater Christchurch. This includes:

The spatial plan sets out to translate the aspirations of the community for Greater Christchurch in 2050 into reality. It will also address the priorities identified for the Whakawhanake Kāinga Komiti (Urban Growth Partnership for Greater Christchurch). These outcomes and priorities will strongly guide the development of the spatial plan.

The investigation into a turn-up-and-go public transport service is the next step in providing an improved public transport system for Greater Christchurch.

From a local government perspective

The plan will draw on the comprehensive planning work that the partners are undertaking through their district pans and growth strategies, and the investment already planned in our public transport system. It will provide a shared view of Greater Christchurch’s future for councils as they 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 and the Regional Transport Plan.

Mana Whenua

Mana whenua have provided clear direction about their values, priorities and expectations, some of which are as set out below, as relevant to the spatial plan.

Kāinga Nohoanga is actively supported:

  • The prosperous development of kāinga nohoanga on Māori Land is supported by infrastructure and improved accessibility to transport networks and services.
  • The ability to establish urban kāinga nohoanga.

Sites of significance to Māori are protected:

  • There is active partnership commitment to protecting wāhi tapu and wāhi taonga.
  • A Te Ao Māori lens is adopted in considering environmental matters.
  • Restore and enhance the health and wellbeing of all water bodies including springs and significantly increasing waterway setbacks.
  • Restore indigenous vegetation wherever possible.
  • Urban development requires consideration and weight to be given to the capacity and quality of the environment equal to development capacity and intensification.

The Spatial Plan

The spatial plan will address how our urban area will change over the next 30 years and beyond towards a population of 1 million, and the policies, investment and other tools required to support the transition from our current urban form.

This diagram sets out the elements of the spatial plan and the potential tools available to support the achievement of this future urban form.

Spatial Plan elements and potential implementation tools

Spatial Plan elements and potential implementation tools

What is the scope of the investigation into a turn-up-and-go public transport service?

The investigation will identify whether an investment in the turn-up-and-go public transport service (Mass Rapid Transit) in Greater Christchurch is worthwhile, and its most suitable route into the city.

This turn-up-and-go public transport service could be a city-shaping investment for Greater Christchurch that helps us get the kind of city we want in the future. It could help us meet our community’s aspirations for a well-functioning and sustainable city that is easy, safe, resilient, healthy, and enjoyable to live in and move around in the future.

We want this turn-up-and-go public transport service to support and encourage the urban form changes our communities have asked for - more housing, jobs and activities that can be accessed easily in central and suburban centres.

Previous work included in the Interim Report(external link) has indicated that the viability of this type of public transport service is very dependent on more people living along the corridors/around the stations.

A turn-up-and-go public transport service is just one possible part of a wider integrated and effective public transport improvements plan for Greater Christchurch. If we decide to go ahead with this service, it will not get underway immediately. We need to start planning now so we will be ready when we need it in the future.

We have translated what we have heard from our community, mana whenua expectations, our understanding of our strengths and the challenges we face into six statements within the strategic framework below of what our urban area must provide into the future to be a great place for people, business and the environment.

Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan Strategic Framework

Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan Strategic Framework

The investigation into a turn-up-and-go public transport service is seeking to assess the performance of the service against three key outcomes:

Turn up and go investigation objectives

A. Key documents

We have already done a lot of work to prepare the evidence base, develop our strategic framework to underpin and guide the work, and analyse different scenarios. The outputs of this work are summarised in the documents below. 

Foundation Report  [PDF, 5.8 MB](external link)

The Foundation Report summarises the identification of urban opportunities and challenges, and the 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 the 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](external link)

The Ngā Kaupapa Report was prepared by Mahaanui Kurataiao on behalf of mana whenua and 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)(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:

Greater Christchurch Public Transport Futures Combined Business Case Summary - Nov 2020  [PDF, 6.7 MB](external link)

The business case recommends an investment programme for inclusion in the partner organisations’ Long Term Plans that:  

  • delivers high-frequency public transport options to existing Key Activity Centres (KACs) and planned growth areas
  • provides reliable bus services with journey times that are competitive with private vehicles
  • enhances the safety and attractiveness of the environment at bus stops for customers
  • improves bus routing and frequency that takes people where they want to go, when they want to get there
  • provides a catalyst for land use development adjacent to frequent public transport routes.

The first engagement on specific service improvements was in 2021, with implementation planned for 2023.

Mass Rapid Transit Interim Report [PDF, 5.8 MB](external link) 

The MRT Interim Report illustrates the importance of integrating land-use and mass rapid transit decisions, as MRT would need the support of even more people living, along the route and benefiting from the improved service and lifestyle changes.

Urban Form Scenarios Evaluation Report  [PDF, 4 MB]

This report summarises the work undertaken to evaluate Urban Form Scenarios.  The purpose of this was to understand how different land-use scenarios and transport packages contributed to the realisation of the outcomes and priorities as set out in the Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan Strategic Framework, to inform the development of urban form direction and development of the draft Plan.

Urban form direction to inform engagement with stakeholders and the development of the draft spatial plan [PDF, 4.7 MB](external link)

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.

Areas to protect and avoid report  [PDF, 2.5 MB]

The purpose of this report is to detail the methodology and reasoning for identifying land development constraints, and areas to protect, to inform the development of the Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan.

B. Engagement webinar and maps


A webinar was held on Thursday 2 March which provides an introduction to the work we are seeking community feedback on. The recording and presentation slides are available below.

Engagement Maps

Areas to protect and avoid:

Focus of growth maps:

Transport maps:

Your feedback will help us to develop the draft spatial plan that will go out for consultation later this year and finalise our investigation into the turn up and go public transport service which will enable to us to move to the next phase of detailed planning for this service. 

We will engage further with the community as our work on a turn up and go public transport service progresses.