The future of our settlements and townships – what do you think?

Granity – Buller District

There has been a lot of change in our settlements and townships since the current District Plans were developed in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. We have seen the growth of tourism, changes in mining activity and a big increase in ‘lifestyle’ living. Some settlements have started to merge with their nearby towns, or become commuter suburbs for these areas. Community services, such as pubs, shops and post offices, have closed in some settlements, while others have grown.

The issues facing our settlements and townships

Our small settlements and townships are an important part of the West Coast and what makes it a great place to live, however we have a number of issues we need to address for the future.

Blackball – Grey District

Issue 1: Adapting to the impacts of changing industries and economic factors

West Coast settlements and townships need to be able to adapt to changes in the types of economic activity such as increasing tourism and reduced mining activity while retaining their character and identity. This includes having sufficient infrastructure capacity to support new industries.

Issue 2: Keeping our settlement character with new development

New development in West Coast settlements and townships needs to reflect the settlement character and ensure that adverse effects arising from the design, siting or construction of buildings and activities, changes in land use, and the siting of new subdivision, are well managed.

Issue 3: Where settlements are subject to specific threats from natural hazards, new development and redevelopment needs to reduce the risk, and new development must be located in less hazardous locations

The management of significant risks from natural hazards is a matter of national importance under the Resource Management Act. As a consequence, in some parts of settlements, or whole settlements, new development – or redevelopment creates too high a risk to life and property. Consequently, locations where new development can occur to reduce these risks need to be identified.

Neils Beach – Westland District

Issue 4: Protecting our residential amenity

Where settlements and townships are growing, new commercial and industrial activities have been located in a largely ad hoc fashion which has an impact on the areas residential amenity – the way it looks and feels. Better direction around the design and location of these activities in settlements which are growing or redeveloping is needed.

Managing change in our settlements and townships

The three current District Plans manage settlements and townships differently. We have identified three options around how to zone settlements and townships in the new Plan and manage their development and change.

Option 1: Specific settlement zone for settlements and townships that allows for both residential and some commercial activities.

Use industrial zoning for industrial activities to create certainty about where these activities will occur in settlements. This is similar to the current approaches for some townships (e.g. Blackball, Ahaura, Rapahoe), in Grey and all settlements in Westland.


  • Flexible settlement zone allows settlements to adapt as the economy changes
  • Currently many settlements do not have any commercial zones so this would allow some commercial activity that does not have high impacts on residential amenity.


  • Tension between enabling the Plan and certainty for residential households.

Option 2: Have separate residential, commercial and industrial zoned areas in each settlement or township.

This is the current approach across settlements in Buller and for some townships (e.g. Runanga, Dobson, Kaiata) in Grey.


  • Greater certainty about what activities can happen where


  • Little flexibility to adapt to economic changes. For example, if new tourism activities (e.g. cycleway extensions or new routes) occur, then there may not be sufficient correctly zoned land.

Option 3: Have a specific Settlement Zone as per Option 1, but identify a ‘Settlement Centre’ with more flexibility for commercial and community development in these locations.


  • Flexible settlement zone allows settlements to adapt as the economy changes
  • Greater certainty about where more amenity impacting (noise, traffic, parking) activities might occur in a settlement.


  • Tension between enabling the Plan and certainty for residential households