Housing proposal out for consultation
Hutt City Council is now calling for submissions on its proposal to enable medium density housing and a wider range of housing types to be built in the city, with a particular focus on nine suburban centres.
The proposed District Plan change would permit a wider range of housing, including low-rise apartments and terraced houses, centred on nine areas with good access to public transport, shopping, parks and schools. It would allow a permitted residential building height standard of 10 metres (three storeys), compared to the current eight metre (two storey) height standard in the General Residential Activity Area.
Because of the scope and importance of the proposals, today’s public notification of District Plan Change 43 will be followed by an extended four-month consultation period ending on 9 March, 2018.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says the proposed plan change is aimed at positioning the city for the future and will underpin Council’s current work to rejuvenate the city.
“Lower Hutt has very limited land for residential development and a shortage of housing capacity, especially one and two bedroom homes. At the same time we are seeing population growth after several decades of minimal movement.”
The proposed changes will also help address issues such as housing affordability, particularly for those looking to buy their first property, and offer practical options to older residents looking to downsize their homes while remaining in their home suburbs.
“This plan change will put Lower Hutt ahead of the game in enabling housing supply to meet demand and avoid the housing shortage and skyrocketing house price situation that we’ve seen in other New Zealand cities. That scenario is a significant drag on city economies and deprives young people the opportunity of owning their own home – owning a house shouldn’t be a privilege for a few,” Mayor Wallace says.
“And there are many other reasons behind this proposal. We need good quality, affordable housing if Lower Hutt businesses are to recruit and retain staff. More compact communities mean less reliance on cars, less emissions and more cost-effective use of our infrastructure. It encourages walking and cycling and greater use of public transport.”
He says, understandably, such changes evoke strong emotions from some residents.
“I believe we’ve struck a sensible balance between working for the greater long-term good of the city and the concerns of those residents who would prefer things remain the same.”
A design guide, for more intensive developments requiring resource consent, would address issues such as the effects on privacy and shade, the quality of building designs and onsite storm water management.
Details on the plan change and information on how to make a submission can be found at: www.huttcity.govt.nz/pc43
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, parks, schools and shops
- A new Suburban Mixed Use Activity Area, permitting buildings of up to 10 metres (three storeys), accommodating shops and cafes on the ground floor, with apartments or offices above. This compares with the current Suburban Commercial Activity Area’s permitted eight metre (two storey) height standard
- A second new activity area, Medium Density Residential, would be located next to the proposed Suburban Mixed Use Activity Area. It would allow residential buildings of up to 10 metres (three storeys), while restricting building height in relation to the rear and side boundaries with recession planes and boundary setbacks to protect neighbouring properties. This compares with the current permitted height standard of eight metres (two storeys) in General Residential
- These two new zones would be limited to nine targeted areas chosen for their accessibility to public transport, parks, schools and shops. They are in:
- It is also proposed to provide for greater intensification on sites larger than 1400m2 in the General Residential Activity Area
- 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 address issues such as shade and privacy effects
- Council’s proposals are also more enabling of traditional infill, allowing for two dwellings per site and minor dwellings like tiny houses and granny flats.
Why is Council proposing these changes?
Lower Hutt has very limited greenfield land for residential development, particularly on the valley floor. Council continues to explore potential greenfield sites and other options such as apartment living in the CBD as part of the RiverLink project. However, there is not enough housing capacity and a limited choice of housing sizes and types, especially one and two bedroom dwellings, to meet current demand, let alone for projected future need. This is an issue Council has been considering and planning for as part of its Urban Growth Strategy 2012-2032.
After several decades of limited population growth and some years of decline, Lower Hutt has seen significant growth in the past two years, which is projected to continue, according to Statistics NZ estimates. Lower Hutt’s population is now estimated at 104,700, compared to 101,200 in 2013.
Government estimates suggest Wellington city has a housing deficit of 10,000 homes which is already putting pressure on Lower Hutt as Wellingtonians seek out affordable housing elsewhere.
In the last financial year, average residential property prices rose more than 23 per cent in Lower Hutt. With families spending more on mortgages and rents, they have less disposable income, causing a drag effect on the local economy.
Local companies rely on a sufficient supply of affordable and quality housing to help attract and retain skilled staff.
Infrastructure and transport
More compact urban areas mean less reliance on cars, less emissions and more cost-effective use of city infrastructure. It encourages walking and cycling and greater use of public transport.
Council is 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. Government regularly monitors Lower Hutt’s housing market indicators, including affordability levels.