Insufficient land for residential development on the valley floor, growing demand for housing and a narrow selection of housing types and sizes have long been identified as major obstacles to sustainable economic growth and fully realising Council’s vision of rejuvenating the city.
Council has been working for several years on a range of housing proposals that Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says will address housing affordability, provide space for new families and offer more suitable housing options for older residents.
“Our concern is that we don’t have sufficient housing or the right type of housing to satisfy our current population, let alone the growth we are now starting to see,” Mayor Wallace says.
“The cold reality is that if we fail to solve this problem in a thoughtful and planned way, Council’s rejuvenation strategies won’t be fully realised and our economy and our collective quality of life will suffer. A business as usual approach would be irrational.”
“One of the groups often forgotten in these debates is the young families, so vital to our social and economic life, who struggle to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder. This initiative will improve their chances to set up a home and a stable future.”
Next month, a full Council meeting will discuss proposed changes to the District Plan. These include allowing a wider range of housing, including low-rise apartments and terraced houses to be built, with a particular focus on ten centres with good access to transport, shopping, parks and schools. The proposals include raising the residential permitted building height standard in these areas to three storeys, compared to the current two storey height standard in the General Residential zone.
To ensure high-quality developments, more intensive developments requiring resource consent would have to follow a design guide.
Mayor Wallace says the proposals provide a balance between the future quality of life of all residents and the effects on existing residents.
“A lot of work has been done to remove or minimise effects of development on existing residents.”
The idea of change can cause anxiety for some people, which is natural, he says. “But if changes to our residential neighbourhoods are made thoughtfully and carefully, then housing growth is very positive. And this is precisely what we have in mind.”
“It’s also worth noting that these District Plan changes offer the possibility of a neighbourhood evolving into a medium density community. The reality is that it can take decades for this to happen.”
Council District Plan Committee Chair Cr Lisa Bridson says the proposals are important and far-reaching.
“This is why we will be taking the plan change to the public for an extended consultation period. We are asking residents to think about the future they want for Lower Hutt and to get involved in the submissions process.”
The District Plan change will be discussed at a full Council meeting on 10 October, 2017. Should the proposals be approved by Council for public notification, there will be a four-month public consultation period.
For further information contact Jon Hoyle, Communications Advisor on 027 403 9469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What Council is proposing
- Providing for a wider range of housing at higher densities, including apartments and terraced houses in areas that have good access to transport, shopping, parks and schools
- A new Suburban Mixed Use zone, allowing buildings of up to three storeys, or ten metres high, accommodating shops and cafes on the ground floor, with apartments or offices above. This compares with the current Suburban Commercial zone’s permitted two-storey limit
- A second new zone, Medium Density Residential, would be located next to the proposed Suburban Mixed Use zone. It would allow residential buildings of up to three storeys, or 10 metres high, while restricting building height in relation to the rear and side boundaries. This compares to the current permitted height limit of two storeys in General Residential
- These two new zones would be limited to ten targeted areas chosen for their accessibility to public transport, recreational areas, schools and shops. They are in:
|The CBD Edge
- It is also proposed to provide for greater intensification on sites larger than 1400m2 in the General Residential zone
- More intensive development needing resource consent would be required to adhere to a design guide and undertake onsite storm water management. The design guide would promote high quality building designs and materials
- Council’s proposals also enable traditional infill, allowing for two dwellings per site and minor dwellings like tiny houses and granny flats.
Why is Council proposing these changes?
- There is insufficient greenfield land for housing development to meet current housing demand, let alone support the future growth of Lower Hutt. This can be seen in rising levels of housing unaffordability. Council continues to look at greenfield opportunities
- There is also a limited range of housing sizes, types, the number of bedrooms and prices in Lower Hutt for people at different stages in their lives and different income levels, including people about to retire or those looking to get on the first rung of the property ladder
- So planned and thoughtful consideration is needed of how we can enable more housing in existing urban areas where there is adequate supporting infrastructure and sufficient recreational land, schools, shops and public transport
- A business as usual approach to housing won’t achieve the goals of rejuvenation and growth for the city. In fact, it will not provide space for new families or help attract and hold on to skilled workers. It won’t provide for older people needing to downsize their homes
- Council is also legally required to address housing affordability and provide a sufficient level of housing now and into the future under Central Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity