Changes to district and regional plans allow any plan provisions to be replaced and new provisions introduced. Requests for private plan changes potentially enable a wide range of changes such as the rezoning of land, amendments to design controls, and the identification of heritage structures, the key difference being their initiation by parties other than the council.  

Private plan changes are typically initiated to provide for some type of private benefit (usually in financial terms) but invariably also result in public benefits such as an increased rating base, greater choice in living environments, or economic development opportunities. Landowners and developers are the usual applicants for a private plan change.  

The main benefit of a private plan change is that someone - other than the council - sets the agenda and the start time. In other respects, a private plan change is much like any other change to a plan.