Growing up: Hamilton's response to Government direction for growth and the changes we must make to the District Plan (our rule book for development.)
Central Government direction
Since 2020, Central Government has reset the rules for how big cities can grow and introduced two pieces of legislation that tells councils how they must make that happen. These are the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021.
Amongst other things, the new rules requires cities like Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Hamilton to grow up, not just out.
Key changes include allowing:
- Three homes of up to three storeys on most sites without the need for a resource consent. These are called the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS).
- At least six storeys in walkable areas around the Central City.
- Higher buildings and smaller sections around neighbourhood centres (depending on their size and scale) where there is good access to the things we need like public transport, shops and jobs.
- Unlimited height in the Central City (which is already the rules in Hamilton).
There are some exemptions to these rules called 'qualifying matter's which mean we modify these requirements in some areas based no, for example, an area's heritage, cultural or ecological significance. Through the Government's submission process we succesfully fought to have Te Turi Whaimana - the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River included in these exemptions; a key guiding planning document in the Waikato which ensures our river is protected as we grow.
How do we do this?
We need to make some changes to Hamilton's District Plan (our rule book for development) to implement the Government's direction. This means there will be changes to the rules around how you can develop your property and your neighbourhood. In time, we're likely to see smaller section sizes, and denser housing developments, resulting in higher buildings, more apartments and townhouses across the city and no requirement to provide care parking.
But it also means it puts homes closer to all the things we need like shops, parks and public transport. It also provides a greater variety of homes in our city, to meet the various needs of everyone who calls Hamilton Kirikiriroa home.
The changes set out by Government are not optional. We have to make changes to our plan to reflect the new rules. However, we're committed to doing this in a way that provides the best possible outcomes for Hamiltonians.
The Hamilton Response
- For our neighbourhoods to grow, we need to consider what infrastructure (like pipes and roads) are needed and where if we have more people in those places. This infrastructure can be expensive, and we need to make sure we can afford growth in these areas, to get the best value for our ratepayers.
- The Waikato River runs right through our city. Te Ture Whaimana – the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River requires us to protect and enhance our awa as we grow. This is particularly important when we consider the stormwater, wastewater and drinking water requirements for new development and how this impacts the river.
- We need to consider how we protect the things that are important to us like our heritage buildings and neighbourhoods, gully networks and sites of significance to Maaori. Finding the balance between all these things, and providing more housing, is a challenge we're committed to facing.
- In areas where people can easily access jobs, shops, schools, parks and quality transport connections, we need to provide more housing at a much greater density and height than currently exists. We're putting plans in place to make sure we do that in a way that makes those areas attractive and functional places to live.
- We need to know how people will move around the city. We're looking at how we make walking, cycling and other modes of transport easier so people don't have to rely on their cars. For example, how to manage rubbish and recycling bins on collection days, storage requirements for e-scooters and bikes and the design of footpaths and roads.
We're currently doing the background work to decide how we make the Government direction work for our city.
- February to May 2022 – Background work to establish how we can make the Government direction work for our city.
- May to July 2022 - Preparation of the proposed plan change including engagement with tangata whenua and stakeholder groups.
- By 20 August 2022 - Public notification of the plan change where you can have your say on the proposed changes over a four-week period.
- October 2022 - A summary of submissions is published and you are invited to make further submissions.
- Late-2022 to early-2023 – Hearings.
- Mid-2023 - Council decision and plan change becomes operative.