Is this your future neighbourhood?

The New Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021

The Government have recently passed a new Act into law to help facilitate the development of residential land in a faster, simpler way, which will likely have an effect on most property owners in New Zealand. To expedite the provision of affordable housing in New Zealand, the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 was passed by Parliament on 20th December 2021.

The Act requires each relevant District or City Council (tier 1) to notify, on or before 20 August 2022, how they are going to implement the requirements, by way of an Intensification Planning Instrument (IPI). The existing District Plan Rules will still be relevant until this date, however, the new rules will effectively remove most zoning standards applicable to dwelling densities, and provide for medium density developments in most zones within the qualifying residential areas.

Certain residential areas are already excluded from the provisions of the Act, and these are noted below:

  • Large Lot Residential zones (generally Rural Residential type lots on the periphery of the cities)
  • Areas with an urban character with a population of less than 5000 in accordance with the 2018 census records unless the Council intends for the area to become part of an Urban Environment. (Small settlements in Bank Peninsula come to mind)
  • Any offshore island
  • Settlement zones
  • Designated Heritage properties
  • Areas that may interfere with the efficient provision of infrastructure
  • Public Open Spaces

Councils may seek to exclude certain areas or sites from the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS), including areas which could for instance be at risk of coastal inundation or flooding. These areas of exclusions will only become clear at the time the IPI is notified by the relevant Council by August 2022. Councils may further include provisions that support the MDRS, for example earthworks, fencing, district-wide matters, and stormwater management and infrastructure requirements.

The remainder of residential zoned areas in the Tier 1 Councils (Auckland, Wellington, Hutt, Hamilton, Christchurch, Selwyn, Waimakariri, and several other Tier 1 Councils) will be able to intensify densities in accordance with the MDRS as set out in the below table, with no requirement for a resource consent.

It is important to note that all residential units will still require building consent and the availability of services (water, wastewater, stormwater, etc.), and other building consent requirements will need to be verified prior to commencing a design for such a development.

If any of the below Medium Density Residential Standards are not complied with, a Resource Consent will still be required as a Restricted Discretionary Activity.

Subdivision of Residential Units

The residential units, once building consent has issued, can be subdivided with a resource consent as a controlled activity, in the normal manner. There are no limits to the size, shape, or other related subdivision requirements provided the relevant building standards have been met, or a resource consent has been approved for the development of more than 3 residential units and provided no vacant lot is being created.

Any subdivision application for a vacant lot will need to demonstrate that it is practicable to construct a residential unit as a permitted activity on that vacant lot and that the residential units comply with the density standards. Details around this will become clearer as the relevant Councils release their IPI’s.

Public Notification

No public notification will be required if all the building standards are met for 3 units, or for 4 or more units that still comply with the building standards. Public notification of the subdivision application is precluded if the above standards have been met.

How does this affect you?

In time, these rules are likely to affect every property owner in the relevant residential areas that are included in the tier 1 towns and cities. If you are wanting to develop and build, these provisions more or less open the gate to enable this. Provided the building standards are met, these can be applied to new and existing dwellings, including alterations to existing houses.

If you aren’t interested in developing and want to retain the low-density ambience of existing leafy green character areas, unfortunately, you are out of luck – whereas prior to this Act becoming law there were a mix of densities that generally retained a lot of the existing character of an area through minimum lot sizes and tighter site standards, these protection mechanisms are more or less out the window.

What can be done about it?

Unfortunately, nothing as this horse has bolted. While the rest of New Zealand were dealing with COVID in some way, either with health issues or business interruptions, or both, the Government pushed the legislation through Parliament quicker than normal, supported by most parties except ACT, for it to become law just prior to Christmas. Done. Dusted.


Do three units have to be built under these provisions?

The Act states “there must be no more than 3 residential units per site”, which implies that the building standards will apply to 1, 2 or 3 residential units. This means anyone can build a single in - fill residential unit or two, or alter their existing dwelling, so long as it complies with the relevant building standards, without needing resource consent. It is important to note that a building consent will still be required.

Is it possible to undertake an infill development, retaining a dwelling, and do one on the rear that fits within the new Building Standard criteria?

Yes, as long as the relevant building standards are complied with. The properties will also be able to be subdivided with a resource consent.

Will existing zone rules still remain for other vacant lots – e.g., 450m² for Residential Suburban in CCC, or are landowners compelled to comply with this Building Standard?

At present these standards will remain but Tier 1 Councils are required under the NPS-UD to further address density standards, and this must be finalised by August 2022. We could potentially see a change in some of the standards prior to August this year.

What is the requirement for car parking with these developments?

The NPS-UD requires Tier 1, 2, and 3 Councils to remove provisions which set minimum car parking rate requirements (other than for accessible car parks) from their District Plans by 20 February 2022. Selwyn District Council and Wellington City Council have already removed these requirements. If on-site parking is provided for a development, the general parking access and manoeuvring standards as specified in the relevant District Plan will still apply.

How can I take advantage of this change?

Although it is too soon to put any applications for new developments into Council, if you already own land, there may be the ability to do some preliminary concepts of what may be achievable when the time comes. All developments require site surveys and topo plans to enable a designer to look at concepts, so this is possibly something that could be put into play early on. We can certainly help you with this if you are looking to do something.

If you are looking to purchase land, where currently it is largely Residential Medium Density (RMD) and potentially Residential Suburban Density Transition (RSDT) zoned land that enables development to this density, in time most properties in residential Christchurch, Rolleston, Kaiapoi, and Rangiora will allow for this type of development, so finding the right location may be the point of difference that could make your future development a success.

We are happy to help and provide advice and assistance wherever we can, however, please note due to the complexity of the legislation, we would prefer contact via email.

We are happy to help and provide advice and assistance wherever we can, however, please note due to the complexity of the legislation, we would prefer contact via email