Designing our towns – what do you think?

Blackball – Grey District

Our main towns of Hokitika, Greymouth, Reefton and Westport are an important part of the West Coast and we want them to thrive.

Issue 1: Planning for population and economic change 

There is a lot of uncertainty around how much growth there will be on the West Coast over the next 10-15 years. The Coast is also in a period of economic change with mining becoming less important and tourism increasing. 

There needs to be allowance in the plan for some new growth areas in our towns, but the plan also needs to deliver the best possible outcomes for the existing population and businesses. 

Issue 2: Natural hazards limit options for development in some locations, and hard decisions will be needed in the future

Natural hazards represent a significant threat to many of the West Coast’s towns and settlements. In some locations, managed retreat from key natural hazards is required. Natural hazard overlays, identifying areas where development should not occur, and zoning locations for potential resettlement over time, will be needed. 

Issue 3: Reinforcing town centres and retaining the character of settlements

Greymouth, Hokitika, Westport and Reefton are the only towns with the full range of residential, commercial and industrial areas, and are critical locations for regionally essential infrastructure such as ports, hospitals and airports. There has been considerable community investment in the infrastructure supporting these area. We need to make sure any growth and development supports these existing towns. 

The West Coast also has a number of settlements, most of which have their own unique character. It is important to maintain this character, while allowing the settlements to change to meet the needs of their community and businesses. 

Issue 4: Maintaining urban amenity – the feel of our places 

A key part of what makes people want to live in larger towns, alongside the access to shops, services and community facilities, is the quality of the built environment and how it makes us feel. Residents and businesses need to be able to use, develop and enjoy their properties without their amenity value being adversely affected by neighbouring development and use. 

Providing for medium density housing 

Medium density housing

The existing District Plans allow for a minimum lot size of 350m2. However the West Coast, like the rest of New Zealand, has an aging population. Older people often want smaller, easy maintenance properties close to services such as hospitals and shops. These types of properties can include duplexes, pensioner flats, terraces and three-storey apartments known as medium density housing. 

Currently the District Plans do not provide for these smaller size properties and developments, or for medium density housing. 

We have identified two options for providing for these smaller lots and medium density housing in the main towns. 

Option 1: Identify specific areas close to services and shops where plan rules could allow for medium density housing.

This would include places close to the main shopping areas, and by the hospitals, and be subject to design guidelines. Medium density housing is restricted in other residential areas.


  • Creates certainty for landowners about where medium density development can occur
  • Medium density development could support the redevelopment and strengthening of town centre shopping areas, by increasing the number of people living close by


  • The character of the areas identified for medium density development is likely to completely change
  • There may be less market interest in these locations compared to other areas

Option 2: Allow for medium density housing across the residential areas of the main towns.


  • The market decides where the best location for medium density development is


  • Less certainty for residential landowners as to where medium density development may take place.
  • Medium density development could impact on the character of a wider range of residential areas

Managing new residential growth 

Westland District

Since the three District Plans were produced, much of the land available for new residential housing in the main towns has been used. While some infill has occurred, there has been a big increase in rural residential, or lifestyle development on the edges of town. 

Lifestyle development 

Not currently provided for within the current Westland or Buller District Plans, or in many of the areas where it has occurred around Greymouth, this has led to: 

  • Some conflicts between lifestyle and rural landuses, e.g. lifestyle development located next to milking platforms or mining activities creating reverse sensitivity issues* 
  • Demands for the types of infrastructure (e.g. footpaths, stormwater systems) that are not normally found in rural areas 
  • Some of the better production land being taken over for residential uses 
  • Places which might be good for long term managed retreat developed in a way that might make that retreat difficult in the future. 

We have identified two options for managing lifestyle development in Te Tai o Poutini Plan. 

Option 1: Zone specific areas for lifestyle development; prevent ad hoc lifestyle development in other rural areas.

Planning will clearly identify the infrastructure and services that will and will not be provided. These areas will be located close to the main towns but not on valuable production land, or land with other economic resource opportunity.


  • Creates certainty for landowners on the locations for where lifestyle development can occur
  • Reduces conflict between rural and residential activities and reverse sensitivity
  • Provides for future expansion of town infrastructure into lifestyle areas in the future


  • Likely to still be a desire for lifestyle blocks in other locations

Option 2: Allow lifestyle development to a minimum lot size throughout most of the rural areas, requiring buffers, landscaping and setbacks for residential dwellings to reduce the risks of reverse sensitivity.

Identify specific areas (e.g. high production land, areas with other economic resource opportunity or future urban areas), where lifestyle development cannot occur.


  • Landowners able to realise economic benefit of lifestyle subdivision throughout the rural area


  • Demand issues still likely for services in areas, but ad hoc natures means these are unlikely to ever be provided
  • May still result in reverse sensitivity issues occurring between lifestyle and rural uses

* Reverse sensitivity describes the impacts of newer uses on prior activities occurring in mixed use areas. Some activities tend to have the effect of limiting the ability of established ones to continue.

Westland District