10 things you need to know about new housing rules in Auckland

Publish Date : 14 Mar 2022

On 18 August 2022, Auckland Council publicly notified proposed changes to the city’s planning rulebook – the Auckland Unitary Plan – for people to make submissions on changes that enable more housing at greater building heights and density across our city.

The first of many new rules for how you can develop your property have also come into immediate legal effect. This means many Auckland property owners will be allowed to build up to three homes of up to three storeys on their residential site without resource consent.

So, what are the changes? And how can you be involved? Here’s a quick run-down of the top 10 things you need to know:

  1. In the past two years, central government has introduced two big planning reforms, the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the new Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) requiring councils nationwide to change their planning rules to enable more higher-density housing.

  2. The NPS-UD requires Auckland Council to change the city’s planning rule book – the Auckland Unitary Plan – to enable buildings of six storeys or more within walking distances around rapid transit stops and to the city centre, our 10 large metropolitan centres (Newmarket, Manukau, New Lynn, Sylvia Park, Botany, Papakura, Takapuna, Henderson, Albany and Westgate).

  3. The council’s proposed walking distances are 15 minutes from the edge of the city centre (around 1,200 metres) and 10 minutes from the edge of the metropolitan centres and around train and busway stations, such as the Northern Busway (around 800 metres).

  4. In addition, the MDRS requires the council to enable more medium density housing of up to three storeys in almost all of Auckland’s residential zones, such as low-rise apartments, terrace housing and townhouses.

  5. Some exemptions are allowed to limit required intensification. Called ‘qualifying matters’, they can limit building heights and density where it may not be suitable, such as for protecting sites of historic significance or avoiding areas with natural hazards. A qualifying matter can only be used if there is strong evidence to prove why building heights and density should be limited.

  6. The MDRS comes into immediate legal effect on 18 August 2022. This means many property owners can build up to three homes of up to three storeys on their residential site without a resource consent if they comply with all other rules and standards for developing their property and no proposed qualifying matters apply.

  7. We must implement the new government’s rules and publicly notify changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan for people to make submissions – this will be on 18 August.

  8. From 18 August to 29 September, anyone can give their views on the proposed changes by completing an online submission on the Auckland Council website.

  9. Making a submission is the most important way for you to be heard on Auckland’s housing future and how our city grows. It is how you give your views on changes to our city’s planning rules for consideration by an Independent Hearings Panel.

  10. The Independent Hearings Panel will consider all submissions and hear directly from people who submitted in 2023. They will then make recommendations to the council on the changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan by March 2024.


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