The zoning of land is determined by a Regional or District Plan, and the zoning determines how land within the zone can be used. For example, a Residential zone is primarily used for housing, although there may be a number of compatible uses which are also provided for in a Residential zone. eg Childcare centres and schools. 

By contrast a Rural Zone is primarily used for the production of food and the farming of animals and horticulture are generally permitted activities (read about activity categories)

Overtime, particular zonings can become inappropriate for the uses that landowners or Council wish to make of the land. And although a Consent can be applied for to address a particular proposed use, often a change in zoning is a more appropriate and longterm solution to the issue.

Although Councils can undertake a plan change with new proposed zonings (read about Council initiated plan changes), there are times that landowners or developers wish to initiate these changes in zones themselves. This may be because the changes have been signalled by Council but are not high on Council's workplan and they wish to expedite the process, or because the proposed use is not something previously considered by Council. 

The Private plan change process is not a quick process and requires considerable consultation with Council, adjacent landowners, infrastructural organizations, and community organizations. It can also involve investigations and reports into environmental issues, cultural issues, stormwater management, public services, and traffic effects, amongst others. This process can be time and cost exhausting.

Birch have been involved in, and are continuing to be party to many private plan changes, often representing a consortium of land owners who are all affected by the plan change. We are very proud of the very positive outcomes we have achieved with private plan changes over recent years, and the positive results they have achieved for the landowners and the communities they are part of. It is through our expertize in preparing the necessary planning documents, facilitating the preparation and auditing of third party reports, negotiating our way through the complexities of a private plan change, and undertaking appropriate consultation that these positive results have been achieved.

Private plan changes can result in very positive results in the right circumstances, so if you need to discuss this option, dont hesitate to contact one of our senior planning staff.