Auckland Council’s Planning Committee has approved, on 31 March, a policy approach to meet central government requirements for greater building height and density within Auckland’s city centre, while seeking to continue protecting what Aucklander’s value most.
The government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) directs councils of New Zealand’s largest and fastest growing cities to allow for more housing, at greater heights and density, in places close to jobs, community services and public transport.
One of its policies directs Auckland Council to enable as much building height and density as possible within the city centre for more homes and businesses.
Planning Committee chair, Councillor Chris Darby says the city centre is one of the Auckland’s fastest growing residential and employment hubs and is expected to continue growing over the next 30 years.
“Significant high-rise development is already enabled within our city centre under the Auckland Unitary Plan. It’s our largest urban centre and so allows for the greatest amount of development.
“However, building heights are currently limited in a number of areas, for example, on the waterfront, around public spaces, and to allow for views to our Maunga and other landmarks. We’re proposing that such areas continue to have some limits placed on development.
“What we have agreed is a set of principles to guide how the further intensification required by the government is provided while seeking to protect what makes our city centre uniquely Auckland.
“They support the qualifying matters, or exemptions, we’ve proposed to reduce required building heights for character buildings in the city centre and Queen Street Valley and for some existing built form controls, such as allowing sunlight into public places like Albert Park and Aotea Square.
“Aucklanders will be able to have their say on these qualifying matters during public consultation, beginning on 19 April 2022. And on the council’s proposed plan change more broadly when it is publicly notified for people to make submissions in August 2022,” says Councillor Darby.
The removal of general building height and floor area ratio rules in the city centre has been approved in principle.
This would allow unlimited height and development capacity everywhere in the city centre zone, subject to qualifying matters, in line with the NPS-UD.
The approved principles to be used to implement NPS-UD requirements for further intensification in the city centre include:
- fewer, simpler, more targeted controls
- protecting sunlight and daylight to open spaces
- protecting amenity and retaining the “human scale” of streets
- enabling tall slender towers with space between them to allow sunlight, daylight, and views to permeate the city centre
- protecting local and regionally significant views
- protecting the outcomes achieved by the existing city centre precincts
- protecting the relationship between the city centre and the Waitemata Harbour.
- protecting historic heritage in the city centre
- promoting climate change resilience.
Further work is being undertaken and will be reported back to the Planning Committee prior to notifying the plan change in response to the government’s requirements by 20 August 2022.
Other Auckland Unitary Plan changes to support quality intensification
The Planning Committee also endorsed the further investigation of additional changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan to support quality intensification. These arise from research carried out by the council on the quality of recent housing developments in Auckland and respond to some of the changes required by the National Policy Statement on Urban Development.
Councillor Chris Darby says: “We remain very concerned about the limits the government has placed on what we can do to support quality urban development in Auckland, however we are determined to do all we can to achieve good outcomes within the tight constraints imposed.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that it is entirely possible to build quality, affordable homes without compromising the quality of our built environment,” he says.
These changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan will be publicly notified at the same time as the plan change required to meet the government’s intensification requirements in August 2022.
Issues from the removal of parking minimums
As required by the government, minimum parking requirements were removed from the Auckland Unitary Plan on 11 February 2022.
To ensure future developments without on-site car parks are well-designed, safe, and accessible for people, Auckland Council will further investigate a plan change to provide accessible parking, access for pedestrians and emergency services, on-site pick-up and drop-off and loading facilities, on-site bicycle, and micro-mobility storage.
And, where developers choose to provide on-site parking, providing electricity connections to enable smart electric vehicles chargers to be installed.
The council will further investigate a plan change to the Auckland Unitary Plan to introduce planning rules addressing issues associated with private ways, such as privately owned driveways, lanes, or other access ways.
These include addressing risks to pedestrian safety and accessibility challenges from the lack of dedicated footpaths with berms and poor connections to the road network and neighbourhoods.
Also, issues with access and manoeuvring for vehicles such as emergency vehicles and waste collection trucks and difficulties in providing space for letter boxes, lighting, installation, utilities, trees and landscaping, and vehicle parking.
Enabling buildings of six storeys or more within ‘walkable catchments’ and three storey medium density housing across Auckland
The council is investigating how to achieve quality intensification while implementing the government’s requirements for buildings of six storeys or more in walkable catchments of the city centre, our 10 large metropolitan centres and stops on the Rapid Transit Network, and three storey medium density housing across almost all Auckland suburbs.
The types of provisions that are being investigated include:
- privacy between outdoor living spaces and outlook spaces and side and rear boundaries
- building setbacks from the street and private accessways
- communal living space for larger scale developments
- landscaping requirements
- encouraging apartment and terrace housing to front the street
- retaining the existing daylight standards in the Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings zone that require separation between outlooks from habitable rooms in buildings on the same site.
Investigating these changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan will continue and draft proposals will be reported back to the Planning Committee prior to 20 August 2022.
More details are available in the Planning Committee agenda here.
For more information on what the government’s changes mean for Auckland, visit ourauckland.nz/growingtogether