Residents share their views on implementing Government’s new housing rules

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Published: 8 June 2022

Lower Hutt residents have provided feedback on how to implement the Government’s new requirements to enable higher and denser housing across the city, advocating for minimum standards for landscaping and a requirement for developers to contribute towards creating more appealing public areas.

The Government-mandated rules aim to increase housing supply and affordability across Lower Hutt and other main centres, by loosening current rules on development. Hutt City Council is now considering public and Mana Whenua feedback for inclusion in a proposed District Plan change to incorporate the Government requirements. The proposed change will be open for formal submissions in August.

Key findings from 419  individuals and organisations who responded to the survey or via email include:

  • 29% of respondents consider 1km or more to be a "walkable" distance between home, public transport,work or shops. (See note to editors)
  • 32% of respondents thought there were areas where Council could allow housing higher than what is being introduced. Most identified the CBD and Central Hutt areas, which as transport and commercial hubs will be required by the Government to have a six-storey minimum permitted height.
  • 21% thought there were residential areas where Council should allow more than the minimum three dwellings per section under the new rules, identifying those close to transport and/or amenities, the CBD, Central Hutt and Petone. As commercial and transport hubs, these areas are already identified under the Government’s requirements for greater density than residential areas.
  • There was strong support (ranging 69-75%) for Council to introduce minimum standards for landscaping (up to 20% of the section needing to be grass or plants), façade glazing (up to 20% of the façade being windows) and a minimum area of outdoor space able to be viewed from inside.
  • 82% wanted Council to include a charge to developers to make public areas more attractive.
  • Views were mixed on whether Boulcott, Lowry Bay and Woburn should remain zoned as low-density areas. Many respondents who otherwise opposed intensification in general nonetheless thought no suburb should be excluded or treated differently.

"It’s great to see so many locals thinking about intensification issues and willing to have their say," said District Plan Review Sub-Committee Chair Simon Edwards.

"Few would quibble with the aim of increasing housing supply and moving towards more public and active modes of transport to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, but survey feedback also showed some frustration with the government’s one-size-fits-all compulsory changes," he said.

"Hutt City Council had already introduced progressive and tailored intensification rules in the form of Plan Change 43, which concentrated development in those parts of the city best served by transport, retail and other services," Cr Edwards said.

"The government-mandated rules, including our inability to require off-street parking even in situations where it is sensible, has removed all local flexibility and made intensification something of a free-for-all."

Director Environment and Sustainability Helen Oram said residents provided useful insights into their priorities for how Council could implement the required changes to get the best possible outcomes for Lower Hutt.

"We’re taking this on board and there will be further opportunity for input when the proposed plan change is publicly notified in August," she said.

A dedicated plan change webpage, timeline and the full survey results 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) may also be allowed in residential areas such as the suburban centres of Avalon, Eastbourne, Moera, Stokes Valley and Wainuiomata.