Changes to Auckland’s planning rules: zone changes

Last Updated : 02 Sep 2022
Changes to Auckland’s planning rules: zone changes

Auckland Council has proposed some new planning rules that allow for more homes to be built across the city.

The proposed rules include zone changes in response to central government’s two big planning reforms to enable more higher density housing – the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the new Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS).

The MDRS has now come into legal effect, enabling property owners in most residential zones in Auckland’s urban areas to build three dwellings of up to three storeys on their site, without requiring resource consent.   

The NPS-UD requires the council to enable buildings of at least six storeys within walking distance (walkable catchments) of the city centre, large metropolitan centres or existing or planned rapid transit stops (Auckland’s train and busway stations). It also requires the council to enable greater intensification around other smaller centres.

The NPS-UD rules changes will not apply until the completion of a statutory decision-making process, expected early 2024. Learn more about these changes here.

The new medium density rules only apply to properties that are not subject to a ‘qualifying matter’ in most residential zones.

Qualifying matters are characteristics within some areas that will limit intensification, such as sites of cultural, historic, or ecological significance, areas with natural hazards, or where there are certain infrastructure constraints.

What are the proposed changes to the residential zones?

Most residential properties in Auckland's urban areas are now proposed to come under one of three zones:

Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings Zone
  • Allows for buildings of six storeys (and in a small number of locations more than six storeys) inside walkable catchments

  • Allows for buildings of up to five storeys (and in a small number of locations more than five storeys) outside walkable catchments

 Mixed Housing Urban Zone
  • New Medium Density Residential Standards apply, unless subject to a qualifying matter

  • Allows for three buildings of up to three storeys, including terrace housing and low-rise apartments

Low Density Residential Zone (new zone)
  • Areas where some qualifying matters apply

  • Limits required height and density up to two storeys and one house per site, with two or more houses requiring a resource consent

Click here to find out what the proposed zoning is for a property and whether there are any qualifying matters applied to it.

The following zones are excluded from the new Medium Density Residential Standards:

  • Large Lot Zone

  • Rural Coastal and Settlement Zone

  • Offshore islands (e.g Waiheke)

  • Single House Zone and Mixed Housing Suburban Zone in small settlements where 2018 census recorded population as less than 5,000 (e.g. Wellsford)

  • Business zone – proposed changes that apply to business land will not have immediate legal effect from public notification of the council’s proposed Plan Change 78, such as within the city centre, metropolitan centre, and other centres

  • Rural zones, open space zones and special purpose zones.

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