Government’s higher and denser housing rules a step closer for Lower Hutt

higher denser housing 2 banner image

Published: 8 July 2022

As required by the government, Hutt City Council has approved a draft change to the District Plan for public consultation that will pave the way for higher and denser housing across Lower Hutt.

The draft was developed with input from Mana Whenua and survey feedback from residents and will be open for public comment in August. This feedback will be considered at a public hearing, in the first half of next year.

The Government-mandated rules aim to increase housing supply and affordability across Lower Hutt and other main centres by loosening current rules on development.

Council may only limit the government’s new rules in specific circumstances and has chosen to do so in those areas identified as being at risk from natural hazards, heritage areas, or sites of significance to Māori.

While the key parts of the change to the District Plan are mandated by the legislation, there are some factors that the public can influence, and earlier public feedback has been considered in the draft District Plan changes. The public will be asked to comment on the draft changes to the District Plan, known as "Plan Change 56" in August.

Some key points include:

1)  A new High Density Residential zone proposes:

  • Buildings up to six storeys, subject to planning permission, within 1200m from the edge of the Lower Hutt CBD.
  • Buildings up to six storeys, subject to planning permission, 800m from the Petone commercial centre and all train stations
  • Buildings up to six storeys, subject to planning permission, in areas around Avalon and Moera commercial centres
  • Buildings up to four storeys, subject to planning permission, in areas around the commercial shopping centres in Stokes Valley, Wainuiomata and Eastbourne.

2)  New building heights and density are reduced in some areas of the city on sites with specific constraints to building. This means more development is still possible but consent from the Council will be required. Development will be constrained on sites:

  • At risk from natural hazards like flooding, tsunami, and coastal hazards (including climate change and sea level rise) and within 20m of the Wellington fault line
  • With heritage protection - the existing heritage protection in the District Plan will still apply. Six additional residential heritage areas have been identified and the changes propose to limit the scale of future development in these areas
  • Of significance to Māori, including those close to marae and urupā, affected by the changes.

3)  The government-mandated changes mean that the current low-density-zoned areas of Boulcott, Woburn and Lowry Bay will be included in the new intensification rules.

4)  No maximum building height limit in the Lower Hutt CBD and the western part of the Petone commercial area, but most new buildings will continue to be assessed on a case-by case basis through the resource consent process.

5)  Developers will be required to pay financial contributions for infrastructure and reserves, based on the number of dwellings created, not per subdivision.

6)  Introduce minimum landscaping, outlook and façade glazing rules - these were optional government requirements but supported in our public feedback.

Hutt City Council Director Environment & Sustainability Helen Oram said the Government-mandated changes had concerned some residents, who were worried about loss of light and privacy and potential traffic increases.

"We’re working hard to get the best possible housing outcomes for our communities within the parameters available.

"The upcoming invitation for public feedback is another opportunity for everyone to have their say on how we can achieve that," she said.

Further background and a timeline for the plan change are available here.

Note to editors: The Government passed a law in late 2021 requiring large urban councils to change their planning rules to allow housing up to three storeys high and three homes per section in most residential areas, without requiring council planning permission (resource consent).

In addition, the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) issued by the Government means Council is also required to allow housing of at least six storeys within walking distance of our train stations, the CBD and the Petone commercial area. More housing (also known as intensification) must be allowed around smaller commercial centres. In Lower Hutt, this includes the commercial centres of Avalon, Moera, Stokes Valley, Wainuiomata and Eastbourne.