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Housing intensification variation


Through recent changes to the Resource Management Act and the National Policy Statement for Urban Development, the Government has directed councils to change their district and regional plans to enable increased housing supply and housing intensification in major urban areas.

This means the Proposed District Plan must change to enable medium-density housing in all residential areas in Porirua. This includes adopting new Medium Density Residential Standards which allow up to three houses of three storeys each (12 metres high) to be built on all residential properties as a permitted activity.

In addition, we are required to identify urban areas where even taller buildings can be built such as within the city centre, local centres and commercial areas, and within walking distance of the city centre, public transport stops and local centres.

To make this happen, Council is required to notify a variation to the Proposed District Plan enabling these changes by August 2022.

You can view the proposed changes to zoning on this web viewer, and changes to chapters in the drop-down menu below:


Medium Density Residential Standards

This new Act requires us to enable medium-density housing in all residential areas across the city of up to three houses up to three storeys (or 12 metres high) as a permitted activity.

Developments must comply with the Medium Density Residential Standards, and if they don't they will require resource consent. Other parts of the Proposed District Plan such as district-wide matters will still apply, for example, rules relating to earthworks or removal of vegetation from Significant Natural Areas.

The variation will include:

The Ministry for the Environment has illustrated potential development options for typical sites under these standards.


Intensification modelling.png


High density housing

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 requires us to identify urban areas where even taller buildings can be built such as within the city centre, local centres and commercial areas, and within walking distance of the city centre, public transport stops and local centres.

The variation will include:

  • A new High Density Residential Zone which enables at least six storey buildings (22 metres high)
  • Residential Intensification Precincts around local centres
  • Replacement of the City Centre Zone with the Metropolitan Centre Zone
  • Rules enabling increased building height and density in commercial zones.


Six storey building example.jpg

Example of a six storey building (Source: stuff.co.nz 28 Feb 2022)


Variation process

The new Amendment Act requires us to use a new intensification streamlined planning process which removes the right of submitters to appeal, except on points of law. See the Ministry for the Environment's guidance on this process.

Further, the Medium Density Residential Standards will have legal effect from August 2022, when changes to the Proposed District Plan are notified.

The Government has made these changes to quickly enable greater housing supply in response to the national housing shortage.

Council is seeking feedback on the proposed changes before notifying the variation in August 2022. A hearing convened by an independent hearing panel will be held in early 2023 to hear submissions on the variation.

The Minister for the Environment issued a direction in the NZ Gazette on 27 April 2022 to a number of councils including Porirua requiring decisions on these submissions to be notified by 20 August 2023.


Qualifying matters

Councils have the ability to modify Medium Density Residential Standards in relation to "qualifying matters". The definition of qualifying matters can be found in the National Policy Statement on Urban Development.

Council is considering whether some minor changes to the Medium Density Residential Standards in a few select areas of the city are appropriate. These are under consideration but could include:

  • Shading effects on sport and active recreation areas
  • Building heights in Special Amenity Landscapes (where there is an underlying residenital zone)
  • Setbacks from the North Island Main Trunk Railway
  • Buildings adjacent to heritage items.


Have your say

The directive nature of the new Amendment Act and the National Policy Statement for Urban Development limits the ability of councils and communities to make changes to the amount of intensification enabled in different areas, and the Medium Density Residential Standards.

However, we are keen to hear your thoughts to help inform the variation to the Proposed District Plan, including:

  1. Where do you see opportunities for intensification in our city?
  2. What do you see as the challenges for enabling intensification in our city?
  3. Are there any other matters you think we should be considering?

Please take a minute to fill in this short survey with your thoughts, or alternatively get in touch with the District Planning team directly: dpreview@pcc.govt.nz or 04 237 5089. The feedback period will run until Friday 6 May 2022.


FAQs

A variation is a Council initiated process to change part of a Proposed District Plan.

The proposed changes will be clearly identified in the Proposed District Plan, both in the text and maps.

New submissions can be made on these changes by any party. These new submissions will be heard as part of the Proposed District Plan hearings programme.


This is a requirement under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development. The Proposed District Plan needs to enable greater levels of intensification in residential areas around local centre zones. The level of intensification needs to be more than the Medium Density Residential Standards, but less than that enabled in the High Density Residential Zone.


These precincts are located in a walkable distance (800m) of a Local Centre Zone, for example in Whitby, and they must also be:

  • Within 800m walkable distance of a primary school
  • Within 400m walkable distance of an open space network

These precincts will enable more intensive development than the three-storey buildings permitted under the Medium Density Residential Standards, but less than the six storeys to be permitted in the High Density Residential Zone.


These locations are in a walkable distance (800m) to the city centre and/or a train station, and they must also be:

  • Within 1200m walkable distance of a supermarket
  • Within 800m walkable distance of a primary school
  • Within 400m walkable distance of an open space network

Because these suburbs do not have the necessary services to enable this level of intensification, such as a supermarket.


The Proposed District Plan forms part of an integrated approach by Council to the provision of development infrastructure to accommodate development over the life of the plan and beyond. In terms of development infrastructure, the provisions in the Three Waters Chapter require new development to provide additional three waters infrastructure capacity to adequately service new development.

These provisions do not work in isolation, however. The recently adopted 2021 – 2051 Long Term Plan proposes a total of $1.8 billion to be invested in infrastructure in the City to support development over this 30-year period. In terms of short-term investment to service growth (0 – 3 years), the LTP commits funding to infrastructure projects to service anticipated short-term demand. In the medium term (3 – 10-years), the investment required to service growth is identified although funding is not committed and will be reviewed and confirmed in the next iteration of the LTP (2024). The investment required to service growth in the long term (10 – 30-years) is identified in Council’s Infrastructure Strategy and broadly set out in the LTP, and will also be updated in the 2024 LTP.

The recently updated PCC Development Contributions Policy 2021 also sets out the development contributions payable by developers, how and when they are to be calculated and paid, and a summary of the methodology used in calculating the level of contribution. These contributions help pay for the identified LTP infrastructure projects required to service new development.


Enabling higher density housing does not mean it will happen, and it will not happen everywhere at once.

The District Plan will only enable opportunities for greater housing intensification, but it will not require that it occurs when a development is proposed. The District Plan contains other planning rules that developments need to comply with relating to earthworks, natural hazards, protection of significant natural areas etc

It is largely up to developers and public housing providers what type of housing gets built and where. They have other matters to consider including the financial viability of development. This viability is informed by factors such as market demand, land prices, the cost of building materials, construction sector capacity, infrastructure servicing, and site topography.

There is already medium density housing occurring in some parts of Porirua, demonstrating that there is a demand for this type of housing. Examples include the Kenepuru Landing development and various smaller developments in Cannons Creek, Aotea, Whitby and Titahi Bay.


Yes. The Proposed District Plan contains a Multi-Unit Housing Design Guide. It is intended that this guide be retained and renamed to Residential Design Guide.

It might be amended in line with the new requirements of the Amendment Act and if so, these will form part of the variation when it is notified. This is still under consideration by the Council.


The National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 requires that building heights and density of urban form are increased in commercial zones, particularly in city centres and those in walkable distance from a train station.


Unfortunately these are not yet available. Council is still undertaking a detailed assessment to consider whether there are areas of the city where stricter controls on new buildings are necessary to protect identified values or features such as historic sites and sporting facilities.

If any are found during this assessment and such controls are considered necessary, then they will be identified when the Council formally notify the changes to the Proposed District Plan.


This is to ensure that we are consistent with the requirements of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the National Planning Standards.

Within the Wellington region, Porirua city centre is a sub-regional centre, while the Wellington CBD is considered to be the regional centre.


Yes. All urban councils located in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch are required to notify changes to their plans by August 2022 to give effect to the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act.

In Wellington, this includes the Kāpiti Coast District Council, Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council and Upper Hutt City Council.


Your feedback on the draft maps, chapters and general approach to enabling housing intensification will be valuable, and will inform the notified variation.

Council is required to formally notify a variation to the Proposed District Plan enabling these changes by August 2022.

Anyone will be able to formally submit on the variation once it is notified. Submitters will be able to speak to their submission at a hearing convened by an Independent Hearings Panel who will need to make the final decisions by August 2023. The hearings will likely be held in early 2023.