Existing Use Rights – Information Supplied To Hon Ruth Dyson By CCC
- Existing use rights has become a more important issue as people seek to re-establish or slightly modify the rebuilding of buildings following the earthquakes. Existing use rights has four distinct matters that need to be considered.
- The first is that the building is lawfully established in the first place. This can be established by simple reference to photographic records and we are confident that it is possible to establish lawful establishment of buildings by such matters.
- The second issue is, are adverse effects the same or similar to what they were previously. The building that has been reconstructed needs to be largely similar in bulk and location to the previous building. However, there is some discretion that applies and an additional 25m2 closed floor area can be added to the original building footprint in line with an exemption which we are able to give. There are also minor changes that can be made to the way in which a building is aligned, for example, a building previously facing south can be realigned to face north.
- The third issue that needs to be addressed is that the degree of non-compliance with the City Plan cannot be increased. This relates to a replacement building not being able to increase the degree of existing non-compliance that existed with the original building. For example, a replacement building cannot be higher and intrude through a recession plane to a greater extent than before. Similarly, a 25m2 addition to the building cannot intrude an existing encroachment into the internal boundary setback.
- The fourth issue is that existing use rights would normally cease to exist after 12 months. The commencement of the 12 months is delayed if there is an obstacle giving effect to the development rights, for example, the building is in the White Zone or insurance settlement is still being negotiated. There is only when there are no external obstacles to giving effect to a rebuild that the 12 month time limit commences.
- In addition to this, the Council also has an ability to extend the duration of existing use rights if an application is made to the Council within two years of the activity being discontinued. Simply put, a residential house could be rebuilt under existing use rights if construction has commenced within 12 months of external obstacles being overcome. In addition, an application can be made to continue existing use rights and this is likely to be granted where there is not a significant departure from the City Plan. The Council is in communication with the insurance companies and the Project Manager Officers to smooth the application of existing use rights so that individual residents do not have to worry about the complexities of these matters.