Central government’s strong requirements for New Zealand’s largest and fastest growing cities to enable more development at greater building height and density means big and complex changes for how Auckland grows in the years ahead.
Auckland Council must respond to the government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development, which requires growing cities like Auckland to enable buildings of six storeys or more within walkable distances to our city centre, 10 large metropolitan centres and around train and rapid busway stations.
The government’s new Enabling Housing Supply Act also requires the council to enable more medium-density housing of up to three storeys across most Auckland suburbs, without the need for resource consent. There are new design standards for residential developments for things like height to boundary requirements and the size of outdoor spaces.
To make these changes, central government has introduced a new way for making decisions on changes to our city’s planning rules – the Auckland Unitary Plan.
It is not the same way plan changes are usually decided under the Resource Management Act, instead there are different roles for the council, an independent expert panel and the government.
How decisions are made
How changes to the city’s planning rulebook are decided is set out in legislation.
Last year, the Enabling Housing Supply Act introduced a new decision-making process under the Resource Management Act to speed up implementing the government’s requirements for enabling more development, including for more housing.
This is how it works:
1. Public notification. Auckland Council must publicly notify a proposed plan change to the city’s planning rule book by 20 August 2022. This allows people to make a public submission – its not the final changes.
2. Some new rules come into force. Some of the government’s new medium density residential standards will come into force, applying to building and resource consents immediately following notification. Read more here.
3. Submissions period opens. Everyone will have 30 working days to make a submission. This is how you can get involved by giving your views and suggestions on the proposed changes to the city’s planning rules. Submissions are open from 18 August until 29 September 2022.
4. Submissions period closes. All submissions will be considered by an Independent Hearings Panel. They will review all submissions and evidence provided and hold hearings with those people and groups who submitted.
5. Independent Hearings Panel recommendations. The Independent Hearings Panel makes recommendations to the council on any changes they think should be made to the Auckland Unitary Plan based on what everyone has said. The Panel can also recommend changes not raised in people’s submissions.
6. Council considers recommendations. Auckland Council must decide whether to accept all the Panel’s recommendations, or to only accept some and reject others.
7. Recommendations accepted. If the council accepts a recommendation from the Panel, it will be included in the Auckland Unitary Plan. The relevant parts of the Auckland Unitary Plan become operative.
8. Recommendations rejected. If the council rejects a Panel recommendation it can provide an alternative recommendation.
9. Government decides. If the council rejects a Panel recommendation and provides an alternative recommendation, then the Minister for the Environment makes the final decision. The relevant parts of the Auckland Unitary Plan become operative.
10. No appeals. There is no ability to appeal the decisions made by either the council or the Minister to the Environment Court.
Be heard on Auckland’s housing future
From 18 August to 29 September 2022, Auckland Council will be asking for submissions on the proposed changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan - called Plan Change 78.
See more information about Plan Change 78 and make a submission online through the Auckland Council website.
A submission is how you can get involved in changes to our city’s planning rules by giving your views and suggestions to be considered by the Independent Hearings Panel.
It is the most important opportunity you have to be heard on what will ultimately be decided about Auckland’s housing future and how our city grows.