Why do we need to have heritage items and protected trees listed in the District Plan?

Under the Resource Management Act local councils are required to protect items in the district that are of historic heritage value as a matter of national importance. Significant trees perform an important role in the amenity values of local communities.

What’s the proposed criteria for a heritage item to be listed in the new District Plan?

The definition of historic heritage in the Resource Management Act sets the basis for heritage assessment criteria and this is further defined by the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement. There is however no fixed best practice list of criteria used either across the country or within Canterbury. A variety of approaches to heritage criteria have been taken by territorial authorities throughout New Zealand. In Selwyn we’re looking at adopting the criteria used in the Christchurch District Plan.

In summary, the criteria we are considering for the Proposed District Plan look at the heritage item’s historical and social value, cultural and spiritual value, architectural and aesthetic value, technological and craftsmanship value, contextual value and archaeological and scientific significance value. For more detailed information on the criteria check out pages 26 and 27 of the baseline report Heritage Items and Protected Trees - Planning Assessment.

All assessments of the proposed heritage items have been undertaken by a qualified heritage expert.

Have a look here for an example of an assessment report for a heritage item which was assessed against the new proposed criteria and which is now included in the proposed list of heritage items.

Another important resource that was used to inform the assessment of all proposed heritage items was the report by historian Dr John Wilson, Historical Overview of the Selwyn District.

What’s the proposed criteria for a tree to be listed in the new District Plan?

It’s proposed to assess trees by using the ‘Standard Tree Evaluation Method’ approach. This is the most commonly used evaluation method around New Zealand and is well-regarded throughout the New Zealand arboricultural industry and adopted by many local councils. As a result of this, when assessing the significance of trees in the Selwyn district going forward, we are proposing criteria that include consideration of various components of the tree’s condition (including
its form, vigor and vitality and age), its amenity or community benefit, and any historic association. For more detailed information on the criteria check out pages 48 and 49 of the baseline report Heritage Items and Protected Trees - Planning Assessment.

What does it mean for a landowner to have a heritage item or a tree listed in the Proposed District Plan?

The owner of a heritage item or protected tree may need to apply for a resource consent to undertake certain work on their heritage item or tree.

Owners may be eligible for funding through the Council’s Selwyn Heritage Fund which supports owners to maintain and enhance heritage buildings in the district as well as work required on protected trees.

Listing in the District Plan establishes the significance of a heritage item, which can then help owners to access heritage funding from other sources.

How old does a heritage item need to be to be listed in the Plan?

There is no set cut-off date for a heritage item to be listed. Best practice requires an interval of around 30-40 years between the construction of a building or structure and an assessment of its significance. That means buildings and structures dating from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s can have significant heritage value.

What should an owner of a draft heritage item or protected tree do if they don’t want to have it in the new District Plan?

We’d like to hear from any owners who may have additional information that could lead to a further review of the currently proposed item and, potentially, a recommendation from the heritage or tree expert to remove the item from the draft list.

In the absence of further information that changes the expert assessment, the owner can also make a submission to the Proposed Plan once it gets formally notified (expected in early 2020), putting forward their reasons for not wishing to have their heritage item listed. This will then be considered alongside the heritage assessment by the hearings panel.

I’ve nominated a new heritage item but it’s not on the list of the heritage items to be included in the Proposed District Plan. Why’s that?

While all nominations were assessed, the heritage expert found that some items didn’t meet the criteria for heritage significance. Sometimes that was because the site of an historic event provided no physical resource to list in the plan and sometimes there was a very low level of authenticity, meaning the building or structure no longer provided sufficient physical
evidence of its history and value to the community.

Where can I find more information about the District Plan Review of heritage and protected trees related rules to date?

For more information about the Council’s preferred option for draft changes to heritage items and protected trees, and all the work done to date as part of the review visit Council website where all the reports developed for the District Plan Review are kept.