Structure Plan Examples

Whangarei Coastal Management Strategy Structure Plans

Fast facts

Location: Whangarei District.

Prepared by: BECA Planning for Whangarei District Council.

Timeframe: 2002 with a full revision in 2009.

Description: This project involved the development of nine structure plans for coastal settlements aimed at improving coastal planning, management, development and conservation at a local level. The plans indicate the Council's policy direction for infrastructure, land use and other resource management issues to provide a concept as to how the settlements should look in 20 years. These first structure plans were the priority plans identified in the Whangarei Coastal Management Strategy. A further 11 structure plans for lower priority planning were identified and are waiting for the RPS to identify the extent of the coastal environment before being progressed.


In late 2002, Whangarei District Council adopted the Coastal Management Strategy, which established a long term vision for the District’s coast. A key outcome of the strategy was the establishment of a vision for location specific ‘policy areas’.

In order to implement the strategy vision, structure plans were prepared for nine high priority coastal settlements. The structure plans were started at the same time as the introduction of the LGA 2002 and emphasised a move from the Council’s traditional focus on resource management and asset management to a more strategic and community outcomes focus. Several further lower priority structure plans may follow as the need arises to give effect to the NZ Coastal Policy Statement (2010).

The coastal policies from the strategy have been incorporated into the Whangarei District Plan both within the Coastal Chapter, through the appeals process prior to it becoming operative in 2007, and through a plan change to the Urban Form Chapter as part of a rolling review in 2011. This allows for concentrated coastal villages with open coastal environment between these settlements.

The rapid coastal development in the early 2000’s resulted in many subdivisions lacking adequate services and infrastructure. As a result, a planned approach to settlements along the coast was needed. The typical baches were replaced by holiday homes and the coast became the recreational backyard for the urban areas, with the population swelling more than threefold during the summer months. In most cases property owners still relied on rainwater harvesting but it became necessary to develop local waste water treatment plants to cater for the increasing population. The beauty of the beaches and the ecosystems had to be protected to retain the reason why people flocked to the coastal settlements. Local economic services and entertainment followed which became the fabric of the coastal villages. In order to manage these in a planned way, both for the immediate needs as well as for the longer period the Structure Plans needed to be created to provide the opportunity for growth and servicing.


Figure 1. Whangarei District Growth Strategy (Whangarei District Council, 2009).


Figure 2. Coastal Management Strategy, Policy Implementation Direction map, Ocean Beach – Whangarei Heads (Whangarei District Council, 2002). 


Figure 3. Marsden Point – Ruakaka Structure Plan (Whangarei District Council, 2009).

Structure plan development process

The preparation of each Structure Plan followed an eight-step methodology:

  • Step 1 - Confirmation of management direction for the Policy Area and definition of Structure Plan boundaries. The definition of the structure plan areas considered the particular resource demands, issues and conflicts that had been identified for the policy areas in the Coastal Management Strategy process.
  • Step 2 - Collation and mapping of existing constraints and opportunities within the Structure Plan area. Information was collated and mapped to identify constraints and opportunities. This included current zonings, natural hazard areas, sites of ecological, heritage and cultural significance, and protected areas identified from technical studies.
  • Step 3 - Workshop with community to identify key Structure Plan concepts and desirable outcomes. This first phase of consultation focussed on identifying existing issues in the structure plan area and how the community wanted the area to look over the next 20 years. The Council’s primary engagement with Tangata Whenua was facilitated by Kaahu Communications who conducted three hui and prepared a summary report
  • Step 4 - Validation of the Structure Plan direction. The community feedback was validated against the earlier Coastal Management Strategy and policy area visions.
  • Step 5 - Structure Plan concept development including mapping and identification of key infrastructure components. The community feedback was collated and the structure plan elements mapped including infrastructure requirements, future land use patterns, development initiatives, sense of place features, and areas for protection.
  • Step 6 - Workshop with community to review Structure Plan and key outcomes. An informal open day was held to allow the community to review and provide feedback on the draft structure plan, and proposals for the implementation measures and programme.
  • Step 7 - Development of implementation programme (including 'triggers', timeframes and statutory changes to the District Plan).
  • Step 8 - Finalise Structure Plan and presentation to Council for adoption.

Content of structure plan

The Structure Plans provided for a wide range of future land uses, including:

  • Future residential areas, differentiating between clustered settlement areas, low density residential areas, and rural living environments;
  • Economic development opportunities and business expansion areas;
  • Rural development opportunities while addressing reverse sensitivity issues;
  • Areas for protection, including future recreation and conservation reserves;
  • Management of existing reserves, including improved access and maintenance;
  • Preliminary identification of hazard issues (based on available information).

In regard to the latter point, the Structure Plans considered the potential risks from natural hazards including land instability, flooding, and coastal hazards. The Structure Plans refer to research reports and comprehensive land hazard maps prepared for the district, avoiding those areas identified as unsuitable for development.

Future utility infrastructure requirements were provided for to cater for any growth and community aspirations, such as demand for reticulated servicing. In considering future stormwater requirements, the need for comprehensive stormwater catchment plans, low impact design, and priorities for mitigation were identified. Major new roading requirements and traffic management measures (e.g. traffic calming) were also provided for.

In addition, the Structure Plans identified a number of other desirable outcomes to be delivered by a range of methods, including by the community and other agencies working collaboratively. Those outcomes included, for example:

  • measures to enhance the sense of place, including signage and place making;
  • recognition and promotion of the heritage values of an area;
  • protecting and enhancing biodiversity through community led initiatives, or in collaboration with the Department of Conservation.

Methods of implementation

The Structure Plans were intended as a non-statutory implementation tool, to be achieved through specific actions such as changes to the District Plan, infrastructure studies and asset planning, capital works, parks planning and community run projects.

Notably, not all of the actions identified in the Structure Plans were the responsibility of the Council. The Structure Plans record actions that other agencies and the local community are to undertake themselves.

Plan implementation was to a great extent left for the market to determine with private developers applying for plan changes or resource consents. Applications outside the structure plan proposals were challenged in Court and the Court upheld most of the structure plan proposals. In some cases the structure plan was considered as an ‘additional matter to be considered’, especially where the change was an infill or a slight deviation from the District Plan provisions, but in larger developments the Structure Plan was a key consideration. See the case law section for more detailed guidance on the weight to be given to structure plans in RMA consent processes. In the urban areas Council did take the initiative to prepare plan changes to implement the Structure Plan proposals.

The provision of infrastructure and more specifically waste water treatment was undertaken by the District Council in various ways but mostly by installing small plants with the capacity to be added on to. Parking areas and boat and trailer parks were identified and developed.

Implementation was initiated on an as-needs basis. In Ruakaka, the former Structure Plan was incorporated into the District Plan and created a total over-zoning of land. Much of the new development proposals were zoned ‘Future Development’ and required a comprehensive development plan, including a servicing plan. However, bulk services could not be provided to those areas by the Council and applications were subsequently received in an uncoordinated manner. As a result of that decision, it was agreed not to incorporate the Structure Plan into the District Plan unless 60% of the already zoned areas were taken up with development. The remaining 40% provided flexibility to accommodate market forces and freedom of choice. Council has done some rezoning on private land where the 60% has been reached but those have not yet been taken up by the market and they are now also revaluating the potential for infill of existing zoned land. In later Structure Plans, a programme for incorporation into the District Plan was added, guided by the market and service availability. In particular instances, the Structure Plan zonings were included to force or provide for uses that were to be relocated.

What has happened on the ground

As a result of the following structure plans, a number of implementation initiatives have occurred (as at September 2014):

Ruakaka Structure Plan:

  • Marsden Town Centre – Operative;
  • Ruakaka Equine Centre with residential – Decisions made (under appeal);
  • Marsden Cove Marina – adjustment of land uses – Operative;
  • Rail Designation – Finalised, which protects a corridor of land for a future railway extension from the main trunk line to the port and refinery;
  • Various Resource Consent applications approved or declined according to the Structure Plan process;
  • Phasing of the sewer outfall designed according to the phasing in the Structure Plan – guided by Development Contributions.

Kamo Urban Structure Plan:

  • Light Industrial Zoning Plan Change (to provide land to remove the industry from the Business Area) – Operative;
  • Kamo Walkability Environment Plan Change (to rezone the residential area to accommodate higher density and the make redevelopment of the shopping centre easier) - Notified.

Tikipunga Structure Plan:

  • Subdivision of a 300 section development.

CBD and Port Structure Plan Area:

  • Port Nikau Mixed use Plan Change to replace the active port facilities - Operative;
  • Bulk Retail Environment in the Outer CBD to consolidate the Okara shopping centre - Notified;
  • Hihiaua Precinct Plan – consultation;
  • Hatea Loop way - 4.2 km walking and cycle way within the CBD – open to the public

Lessons Learnt

Key lessons learnt include:

  • The process was very effective with widespread community participation and good feedback about the consultation process and the outcomes achieved. During the 2009 review process, participation was seen to be dropping off and fresh approaches to consultation were considered. For example, the review of the Kamo Structure Plan was consulted on through an Agility programme which used social media to the fullest. Called the Kamo Place race, the Facebook and Twitter reactions were instant and staff and the Mayor responded daily. The council won an award for the best use of social media to get public participation. The result is that within two months the council notified a plan change for densification of Kamo, did a walkability proposal and replaced the rules of the District Plan with policies and design guidelines;
  • The process enhanced community/Council relationships and resulted in community ownership of outcomes. Workshop sessions were programmed to tie with long weekends to ensure greater representation of absentee land owners/ holiday home owners;
  • Iwi were invited to participate in these consultation sessions together with the new arrivals which were very seasonal due to the nature of the population. In the later Urban Structure Plans, Iwi were consulted separately and again during the community consultation;
  • The biggest challenge in the development of the Structure Plans was to consult with the absentee land owners/holiday home owners, creating differences within the communities itself without reaching mutual consensus all the time. The needs of both landowners and visitors had to be taken into account, which were quite diverse;
  • In the Ruakaka Structure Plan it was decided to have formal submissions and hearings rather than consultation meetings, due to a major proposal for change within the Marsden Town Centre, which proved effective, as it was treated as a formal and credible process;
  • The consultation process further assisted LTP and LGA planning, by obtaining direction on areas where the Council should target resources;
  • The initial constraint and opportunity mapping and the wider Coastal Management Strategy findings 'set the scene' for the community to focus on realistic development/growth scenarios;
  • One major conclusion of the exercise was that in most areas it was not a matter of investing resources into new capital projects or studies, but rather doing better with what the Council and community already had;
  • There was a common theme throughout consultation that developers must pay the fair and reasonable cost of the infrastructure and service demands they create;
  • The identification of implementation actions provided a transparent means for the community to track how their aspirations were being delivered by Council actions.

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Tauriko Business Estate / Pye’s Pa West

Fast facts

Location: Tauranga District / Western Bay of Plenty District.

Area: 430 Ha (Pye’s Pa West) / 200 Ha (Tauriko).

Prepared by: Beca Consultants and others for Grasshopper Developments Ltd (Pye’s Pa West) / Boffa Miskell and Aurecon for Element IMF Ltd with Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council (Tauriko).

Timeframe: 2003-2005 (Pye’s Pa West Residential), 2004-2008 (Tauriko Industrial).

Description: Development of structure plans for residential and business land development to give effect to the SmartGrowth Strategy settlement pattern.


Figure 4. Pye’s Pa West Urban Growth Plan (Diagram UG7, Tauranga City Plan, 2009).


Figure 5. Tauriko Business Estate Urban Growth Plan (Diagram UG8, Tauranga City Plan, 2009).


Pye’s Pa West and Tauriko were identified by the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Council’s as urban growth areas in the Western Bay of Plenty SmartGrowth Strategy and Implementation Plan 2003 as key initiatives to address identified shortages in land for residential and industrial development. The areas build on existing urban growth areas and are located at the southern end of Tauranga’s toll road, which formed part of the Councils’ Strategic Road Network. Tauriko industrial area is located on the main road corridor linking the Bay of Plenty to Auckland and the Waikato.

The urban growth areas were subsequently anchored in the Regional Policy Statement (Change No. 2 Growth Management, 2009), as part of the region’s urban growth policy.

While these areas were identified by the councils, land developers have always been actively involved in the planning process and collaborated with the councils, including funding and undertaking technical assessments.

Structure plans were developed in conjunction with proposals for urban rezoning. This occurred over adjacent areas through two separate plan change processes. In both cases, this was initiated by developers through a private plan change request.

The structure plans provide a framework for implementation to occur under the RMA (land use, subdivision, stormwater discharges) and LGA (infrastructure planning and development contributions).

The existing environment of the area presented several challenges including managing the interface between business activities and adjacent rural and residential areas, staging to integrate with the timing of planned services upgrades, links to the arterial road system, and recognising cultural values associated with the area. Both Pye’s Pa West and Tauriko Structure Plans are broadly split into three stages each.

Structure plan process

Separate structure planning processes were followed for the two adjacent areas. Common characteristics of both processes were:

  • Confirmation of the overall spatial planning direction in SmartGrowth and via RPS Urban Development policy – this was key to giving the necessary certainty for private sector investment in structure plan initiation;
  • Developer agreement with local authorities over the private initiative to develop the Structure Plan – this included establishment of a joint project team with the developer, council and NZTA representatives which met on a two weekly cycle;
  • Collation and mapping of constraints and opportunities – including investigations of a wide range of resource management and development issues;
  • Land owner engagement and workshops with community to identify key Structure Plan concepts and desirable outcomes.

The Pye’s Pa West plan change was relatively non-contentious locally with the development building upon an already established urban growth area at Pye’s Pa. Main challenges were in the management of urban stormwater given the adjacent water course which was already flood prone. A network of stormwater management lakes was integrated into the design as a key recreational and amenity feature.

Tangata whenua consultation was undertaken as a series of meetings with hapu representatives. This was done after contact was made with the local authority iwi liaison representative and the iwi to confirm who should be contacted. The meetings began before any concept designs were undertaken, and built on the results of an archaeological survey of the entire area. The hapu representatives accompanied the archaeologist on that survey work. Mitigation measures for urbanisation were agreed including riparian planting with nominated species and the protection of certain archaeological sites.

Consultation with tangata whenua and interested landowners/submitters was ongoing after lodgement to resolve issues prior to the hearing and during the appeal period. Two appeals were resolved within one month.

The Tauriko plan change was more contentious as it included rezoning of rural land within an area that had been developed for high amenity rural lifestyle use. Facilitated prehearing meetings were held with submitters which assisted in bringing many issues to a resolution. An appeal to the Environment Court was ultimately determined in favour of the industrial re-zoning.

At Tauriko, a formal memorandum of understanding was developed between Ngai Tamarawaho hapu and Element IMF, and this facilitated the smooth implementation of a cultural impact assessment, the construction of a large pou, re-vegetation, works to restore the Koprererua stream meander, lakes supporting eels, introduction of new street names that reflect the area’s history, ongoing meetings, site visits, on-site monitoring and advice.

Both Structures Plans were reviewed and updated through the City Plan Review. The Review included removal of much of the infrastructure detail and inclusion of this detail entirely in the Councils Development Contributions Policy to provide greater flexibility for updating (i.e. avoiding plan changes).

Provisions for increased housing density (minimum density rules) were included in the initial structure planning for Pye’s Pa West, reflecting a Regional Policy Statement urban growth policy requirement. These provisions proved to be out of kilter with the market and targets were eventually revised downward by the Council though the Review to enable staged implementation of higher densities. This issue was of concern to developers across the sub-region and was not an issue solely for Pye’s Pa West. However, the developer at Pye’s Pa West was actively involved because the minimum density rules proved to be particularly difficult to implement as a result of the sloping land form and suburban location of the development.

Content of structure plan

The structure plans provide for a wide range of future land uses, including:

  • Future residential areas for up to 3,000 households with target minimum densities to meet regional intensification goals;
  • 180ha of industrial land;
  • 15ha of commercial land, including provision for a 45,000m2 regional commercial centre;
  • Integrated transport network including public transport walking and cycling;
  • Neighbourhood centres for local service, including walkable “convenience centres” for workers in the business estate;
  • Areas for environmental protection, including future recreation and conservation reserves, stream corridor enhancement, and high amenity stormwater lakes;
  • Extensive revegetation of steep escarpments in former rural land use;
  • Tailored buffer treatments at interfaces between residential and business use, major roads and residential use, and rural and business use;
  • A strong tree-lined street network in residential and industrial areas.

Staging is clearly defined through maps and text with prerequisites established for the delivery of services and other elements at each stage.

As part of the SmartGrowth Strategy, urban growth areas were generally directed away from significant natural hazards. The main natural hazard affecting the growth area is confined to flooding along the banks of the Kopurererua Stream which flows centrally along the valley floor. Large detention ponds are used to mitigate increased stormwater runoff and a 100-150m wide stream and floodplain corridor is set aside as a stormwater management area to be managed by the Council. The ponds and stormwater management area are used as passive recreational assets and include walk and cycle ways. Localised geotechnical constraints were also identified from the presence of peat in low lying areas and the proximity of steep escarpments. However, these site specific issues are addressed at subdivision consent stage rather than in the structure plan itself.

The strong network of tree-lined roads is a distinctive feature of the business estate. This is aimed at not only providing a pleasant environment for businesses, but also to integrate the development with the surrounding environment. Special purpose planted buffers will also protect important amenity values.

The development of the road network required an adaptive approach that took into account future arterial improvements that were highly uncertain.

Cultural recognition has been achieved through installation of poū as gateway features, funded via development contributions. Street names reflect characteristics of the ancestress and taniwha ‘Taurikura’ in the Kopurererua Stream that bisects the area. Long term restoration of this important waterway is a central theme for cultural recognition.

Methods of implementation

The Structure Plans were implemented through private plan changes to the District Plan alongside the introduction of rezoning and place-specific plan rules. This process was agreed with Council as it meant that costs were met largely by the developer. Council collaborated closely with the developers as part of the project team.

In the District Plan, the structure plans also serve to guide land use and subdivision via place specific plan rules. Development that complies with the prescribed structure plan outcomes is generally a permitted or controlled activity. There is simplified consenting and a high level of certainty about compliance is provided.

Infrastructural elements of the structure plans were incorporated into the Councils LTP and Development Contributions policy. Structure planning promoted certainty in assessing levels of service and units of demand.

Comprehensive stormwater management planning established an overall framework that addressed long term cumulative effects. This has enabled discharge consents to be obtained on a more certain footing.

Policy changes overlapped between two Council (Tauranga and Western Bay) areas requiring joint processes, and ultimately a boundary change took place to bring the growth area entirely with city boundaries and under a single controlling body.

What has happened on the ground

The development of both Pye’s Pa West and Tauriko Structure Plans were initially quite rapid with the early construction of major infrastructure developed with capacity to accommodate the development. 

On Pye’s Pa West Structure Plan (The Lakes), this included:

  • Creating 8Ha of lakes on low-lying ground;
  • Building 20km of cycle tracks and walkways;
  • Retention of landforms and creation of reserves; and
  • Re-vegetating hillsides and existing roads with 200,000 plants and trees.

On Tauriko Structure Plan (Tauriko Business Estate), this included:

  • Moving 2 million cubic meters of earth;
  • Planting 50Ha of reserves, trees and vegetation;
  • Establishment of an imposing carved pouwhenua ‘Taurikura’;
  • Funding and constructing the Pye’s Pa Bypass Road; and
  • Completing roading, lighting and waters/sewerage services in Stage 1 (55Ha), servicing 110 sections.

The global financial crisis, coupled with the PSA Kiwifruit virus’ impact on regional GDP, led to a significant slow-down in demand for land. With improving economic conditions, development has recommenced.  As at June 2013, approximately half of the Pye’s Pa West Residential area has been subdivided with half of these sites built on. Approximately 1/3 of the Tauriko Business Estate has been subdivided with work on Stage 2 progressing with Stage 3 yet to come.

For the latest information see and

Lessons Learnt

Key lessons learnt include:

  • Certainty provided via the SmartGrowth settlement strategy and RPS meant private sector investment in structure planning, with significant savings (in excess of $3 million) in public expenditure;
  • Prescriptive levels of service for land use determined at a district level must be reviewed and manipulated at the structure plan level to allow for the specific features to tailor the outcomes. In the case of the Pye’s Pa Structure Plan:
    • The topography manipulated the manner in which the collector roads provided the desired connectivity;
    • The Council's active reserve requirements resulted in provision being made off-site on more desirable land; and
    • The business quota was not met due to the difficult ground conditions in the obvious locations and the knowledge that additional prospects were located in close proximity but off-site;
  • Completion of the Stormwater Management Plan for the Pye’s Pa Structure Plan gave an early and clear understanding of the location and management regimes to be applied, thus enabling the Structure Plan to be accurate in terms of the land available for development and consequently the yield of household equivalents for servicing analysis;
  • Regular, structured collaboration with council and NZTA staff as part of the Tauriko structure planning project team allowed community interests to be anticipated and fully addressed;
  • Building a good relationship based on trust, expertise, sharing and mutual benefit assisted a comprehensive memorandum of understanding between the developer and tangata whenua. This in turn provided certainty throughout the Tauriko Structure Plan process and facilitated the implementation of specific and meaningful mitigation and remedial measures;
  • Careful consideration and time is often required to achieve Māori aspirations for re-introducing traditional names for places and streets;
  • Investment as a part of the Tauriko structure planning process has bought substantial payback during implementation, with high certainty and reduced compliance costs for consenting;
  • It is important to check goals for higher housing density with the actual market as these needed to be revised to enable a staged implementation.

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Rolleston Structure Plan

Fast facts

Location: Selwyn District.

Area: 2,241 Ha.

Prepared by: Selwyn District Council, Boffa Miskell and AECOM.

Timeframe: 2008 – 2009.

Description: The Rolleston Structure Plan is a strategic framework to guide rapid growth that has, and will continue to, occur in the town, and at the same time address the historical consequences of a poorly planned layout. The plan was largely design-led with input from consulting engineers and involved an extensive community consultation process.


Rolleston is located approximately 23km south west of central Christchurch on State Highway 1. It is the largest and most significant town in the Selwyn District, due to its central location, links to other townships, the role it plays in servicing the rural communities of the District, and proposed long term size. The town is set within the alluvial Canterbury Plains and largely surrounded by pastoral land and peri-urban land uses. It predominantly comprises residential subdivisions with a small town centre and a growing industrial zone.  

The Rolleston Structure Plan was initiated by Selwyn District Council as part of delivering the Greater Christchurch Development Strategy and subsequent Chapter 6 of the Regional Policy Statement, which seeks to manage growth throughout the Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts and Christchurch City over the next 15 years. Rolleston is planned to grow from its current population of approximately 7,000 to 20,000 people by 2041. The Rolleston Structure Plan is a non-statutory document and was adopted by Council in September 2009.

Key issues addressed in the Structure Plan included:

  • Poor cohesion in historical town development;
  • Vehicle centric nature of existing settlement;
  • Uncoordinated town centre growth;
  • Lack of housing choice;
  • Pressure on community and recreation facilities; and
  • Lack of infrastructure capacity, and need for more sustainable infrastructure solutions.

Structure plan development process

A separate process defined the Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) for Rolleston as part of the Greater Urban Development Strategy. This sub-regional strategy set the boundaries and average residential densities for the Structure Plan early on in the process. This included accounting for present and future natural hazards (i.e. climate change, flooding, earthquake and inland migration of coastal ecosystems) to avoid and minimise risks to health, property and the environment.

The Council assembled a multi-disciplined team to prepare the Structure Plan and established a steering group, comprising councillors and key council officers, to provide an overarching governance structure. This allowed the organisation to regularly track progress and follow a ‘no surprises’ approach through to its adoption.

The location of the town centre was seen as a critical piece in the puzzle from where other land use and transportation decisions could be made. A discussion document based on retail assessments, comparisons of other New Zealand towns and potential (re)location options were prepared. A brochure and questionnaire was circulated to all local residents within the MUL, with the majority favouring to keep the existing location along with other preferences such as types of retail, community facilities and open space.

A combination of existing council studies and data analysis (using GIS as a primary tool) provided base information on land ownership, existing patterns of development, retail capacity, ecological and landscape qualities, infrastructure capacity for the team to draw on. This was summarised in a table of issues and opportunities.

Various concept design options were considered as part of the Structure Plan development, particularly those associated with town centre options, location of supporting neighbourhood centres and provision of higher density housing.

Regular input from the existing business community, key landowners, council staff and councillors was sought to enable the Structure Plan to best align with community expectations.

Local iwi, through Mahaanui Kurataiao Limited (MKT) - a resource and environmental management advisory company established by the six local Rūnanga, reviewed and commented on the draft plan prior to public release. This included stronger recognition in the development principles and infrastructure provision, particularly stormwater treatment.

The draft Structure Plan was then released for a six week consultation period and made available to the public through the SDC website, with hard copies at the Council headquarters and Community Centre. Launch of this document was accompanied by media advertising and public displays to raise awareness. Open Sessions displaying key aspects of the draft Structure Plan were held at the Rolleston Community Centre. Every submission was considered, recommendations made by officers and relevant changes documented for finalisation of the document.

Content of structure plan

An executive summary is included in the document to provide an overview of the Structure Plan and provided an opportunity to identify the Council’s key moves, including a refocused town centre, a new recreation precinct and a mix of housing types.

A vision statement at the front of the document acknowledges the end user and the qualities they look for. This was intended to inspire the community towards a common goal. Three key objectives were then set out that guided the Structure Plan, these were centred on sustainability, good design and realistic aims. Under good design, 18 tailored development principles were outlined to guide future developments and help access their outcomes.

The Context Analysis chapter sets the scene and considered the town’s integration into the broader regional and district scales; its historic development and environmental setting; the statutory and planning frameworks in which decisions are made; and any relevant strategies and guidelines that cover the town and its activities.

A summary of the community consultation process was inserted into the Structure Plan document between the draft and final document issues and is placed before the description of the structure plan itself, to transparently demonstrate the Council’s response to their views.

The Structure Plan is then presented, showing graphically how all aspects of the plan integrate together. This is accompanied by a description of its approach, key aspects and staging. Subsequent chapters then explain in more detail each of the four key layers:

  • Centre Strategy (e.g. Town Centre and use of Neighbourhood and Local Centres);
  • Land use (e.g. housing, open space and community facilities);
  • Movement networks; and
  • Infrastructure

At the end of each chapter a summary of key issues, constraints and opportunities, required actions, and a checklist against the structure plan objectives are specifically recorded.

Critically, an overall implementation plan at the end of the document summarises various ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ methods available to Council to give effect to the Structure Plan, ranging from statutory planning (e.g. RMA) to funding allocations (e.g. LGA). An action plan clearly tabulates the component layer, land requirements, timeframe, cost implications and method recommended.  


Figure 9. Methodology (Draft Rolleston Structure Plan, 2009)


Figure 10. Proposed Rolleston Structure Plan Diagram (Draft Rolleston Structure Plan, 2009).


Figure 13. Rolleston Structure Plan (Draft Rolleston Structure Plan, 2009).

Methods of implementation

Following the adoption of the structure plan, the Council quickly set about implementing it through the following methods:

  • Changes to its District Plan for initial residential development stages with area specific Outline Development Plans;
  • Design guidelines for business and medium density residential zones;
  • Commencing capital works for infrastructure and streetscape improvements;
  • Working with the Ministry of Education on new primary and high schools;
  • Purchasing the land for a large recreation precinct with an aquatic centre now operational and sports fields under construction; and
  • Preparation and adoption of a town centre masterplan.

The importance of having an implementation strategy in place has proven critical since the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes. Since then, growth pressures have intensified for both residential and business land uses to replace red zoned and damaged property in other parts of Greater Christchurch. Implementation has had to track more quickly than expected meaning the staged release of land and provision of infrastructure and community facilities are being brought forward in time, initially through plan changes and then the Land Use Recovery Plan. The Council are now working more closely with developers to coordinate the roll out of the structure plan.  

What has happened on the ground

  • 2010 – Clearview Primary School opens (second primary school in Rolleston);
  • 2010 – Council purchased 33 additional hectares of land to form the 42 hectare Foster Recreation Park (formally known as the Recreation Precinct in the Structure Plan);
  • 2011 – Notice of Requirement to designate the Foster Recreation Park for recreation purposes was approved by Council;
  • October 2011 – Plan Change 7 is made operative by Council rezoning 462 hectares of land for over 5400 households;
  • October 2011 – Council adopts the Subdivision and Medium Density Design Guides;
  • June 2012 – Rolleston Town Centre and Foster Recreation Park Master Plan project begins;
  • September 2012 – New Rolleston Police Station opens;
  • June 2013 – Selwyn Aquatic Centre opens (located in Foster Recreation Park);
  • June 2014 – Notice of Requirement to designate land for Rolleston West Primary School was approved by Council (third primary school);
  • April 2014 – Council adopts the Rolleston Town Centre and Foster Recreation Park Master Plans;
  • As at April 2014, in terms of residential development in land rezoned by Plan Change 7:
    • 1666 lots have had subdivision consent approved;
    • 821 lots have s224 issued
    • 521 have Building consents issued; and
  • June 2014 – As part of the Land Use Recovery Plan, Council recommended a further 123 hectares of land be rezoned to provide an additional 1230 households.

The Rolleston Structure Plan has proved an important stepping stone to translate a sub-regional strategy to a specific town context.

Lessons Learnt

Key lessons learnt include:

  • Lessons learnt from the previous Lincoln Structure Plan were incorporated into the process and outputs for Rolleston;
  • The comprehensive and logical document presentation with rich graphic illustrations made key issues more accessible to the community;
  • Community consultation was considered a success, particularly with web-based resources, open days and mail-out brochures;
  • The Structure Plan incorporates the entire town and does not just focus on the newer areas allocated for residential and business growth;
  • Getting the ‘big’ ideas right and sticking to principles and broad organising structures and relationships, allowed for flexibility at outline development stage where more site-specific information is available;
  • The plan sought to ensure through a design-led process that land use, transport, and infrastructure were well integrated, with a strategic staged release of developable land to manage growth to support council investment and the overall success of the town;
  • Sense of place and potential generators of investment were carefully considered, such as retaining rural road alignments and considering the retention of pastoral water races and shelterbelts;
  • Some existing large-lot subdivisions within the town have been difficult to subdivide further and interim development of later stages needs to be carefully managed. Some suburban communities close to the town centre have also resisted intensification;
  • The sustainability objectives were acknowledged to be aspirational at the time of adoption and are still a work in progress. However, their inclusion set a clear challenge for the Council, in area-specific ways (e.g. community wellbeing, drought ready, self-sufficient), which can be targeted over time. For instance, the Council is working more closely with Environment Canterbury on public transport provision as a result of the substantial population increase in Rolleston over the last two years;    
  • The considerations given to natural hazards and other constraints through the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy has meant Rolleston has subsequently performed reasonably well following the Canterbury Earthquakes and has provided developable areas for displaced residents to relocate; and
  • The Structure Plan continues to be the basis for many council decisions relating to Rolleston and a review has been suggested for the 2014/2015 financial year.