Planning rule changes worry Churches in Christchurch

Anglicans and Catholics are worried proposed changes to planning rules in Christchurch could make it hard for them to rebuild earthquake-damaged churches.

They have both made submissions on proposed plan changes.

They say under the new rules their special recognition disappears.

Under the current District Plan spiritual activities involving churches are treated separately from other activities that involve large gatherings.

The existing plan says this is in recognition of the service churches provide to the community, not only each Sunday but also through food banks and as places for the community to gather.

This means that churches are able to continue operating in largely residential areas, where other organisations and businesses, such as cinemas and sports clubs, are prevented from operating.

Neither the Basilica nor the Cathedral are affected by the new changes as they are in the centre of the city.

But both denominations are considering where to best locate places of worship after taking account of shifts in the population following the quakes.

There is a concern about the extra compliance costs that may be incurred for having to apply for resource consent to rebuild churches in residential areas, including in places where a church has stood since the city was first settled.

In its submission to the plan, Catholic Diocese of Christchurch said churches had a wide variety of functions apart from just spiritual activities and played an active role in the community providing social services, a meeting place for groups.

It was important these activities were allowed within the plan, the diocese said.



News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , , ,