Auckland Council has today opened public consultation on some proposed approaches for changing the city’s planning rulebook – the Auckland Unitary Plan – as part of implementing central government’s new requirements for greater housing density across the city.
Aucklanders can have their say from Tuesday 19 April to Monday 9 May 2022 and view draft planning maps showing where greater building height and density is required. This is available at akhaveyoursay.nz/housing
Central government’s housing requirements include apartments of six storeys or more in and around large urban centres with jobs, shops, community services and rapid transit stops. And more medium-density housing of up to three storeys across almost all Auckland suburbs.
Councillor Chris Darby, chair of the council’s Planning Committee, says he is encouraging all Aucklanders to have their say to help the council prepare its changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan that must be publicly notified by 20 August 2022.
“Central government has come in strongly with how it wants Auckland to grow by requiring greater building height and density across our city, meaning big and at times complex changes in the years ahead.
“The majority of the government’s changes are mandatory. Where we do have scope to make some limited decisions, we’re working hard to make sure they meet the needs of our growing city.
“How our city grows is an important issue for all Aucklanders, the decisions that will be made will shape not only how Aucklanders live today but also how we meet the housing needs of future generations,” says Councillor Darby.
Government’s new rules
There are two significant central government planning reforms that the council is required to implement.
The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) requires the council to enable buildings of six storeys or more within walking distances to our city centre, 10 large metropolitan centres and around train stations and stops on the Northern Busway. It also requires the council to enable greater heights and density within and around Auckland’s other suburban centres.
The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act passed in December 2021, requires the council to enable more medium-density housing of up to three storeys across almost all Auckland suburbs.
The Act also requires the council to replace its existing design standards (or rules) with the government’s new standards for developments, such as building setbacks from boundaries and minimum size requirements for outdoors living spaces.
John Duguid, General Manager of Plans and Places, says there is still a long way to go before final changes are decided.
“Right now, the council has put out some proposed approaches for Aucklanders to have their say on whether we’ve struck the right balance between the requirement to enable more housing density and protecting the things many Aucklanders value such as sites of cultural, historic, or ecological significance.
“This consultation isn’t a government requirement. Rather, as we’ve done previously with the Auckland Unitary Plan, we have chosen to give Aucklanders an early say ahead of publicly notifying a plan change in August for public submissions.
“We want to hear people’s views on our approach to some of the limited things we can decide, including on our proposed exemptions to reduce mandated building heights.
“The government allows for some exemptions, called ‘qualifying matters’ to reduce its mandated building heights. But we can’t use these without providing strong evidence to prove why further housing density should be limited, and this needs to be justified against the government’s clear requirements to allow more housing density,” says John Duguid.
What we are asking for feedback on
The council is seeking feedback on some proposed changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan that we have scope to make limited decisions on, these include:
- The size of the walking distances (‘walkable catchments’) where buildings of six storeys or more must be enabled
- The size of the areas around our suburban town and local centres where additional height and density of buildings can occur, and what the building height and density limits should be
- The ‘qualifying matters’ the council has identified as relevant and important for Auckland. These are the characteristics within some areas that may allow the council to reduce building heights and density, which include identified special character areas and important local public views.
Further opportunities to have your say
Feedback received from Aucklanders will help to inform the council’s proposed plan change to the Auckland Unitary Plan which must be publicly notified by 20 August 2022.
This will be an important second opportunity for people to have their say on the council’s proposed plan change by making a submission so their views can be considered by an independent panel during statutory decision-making.
As required by the government, an Independent Hearings Panel will consider all submissions, hear from submitters, and then make recommendations to the council on changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan.