Proposed Plan Change I: Medium Density Residential Zone

We're aiming to formally consult on this proposed change to our District Plan in 2024.

Local example of duplex housing.

Like the rest of New Zealand, Palmy needs more housing. New government standards across the country have directed councils to create room for more new homes by building up as well as out.

To meet these standards, and provide places to live in our growing city, we're proposing a change to our District Plan called Plan Change I: Medium Density Residential Zone. It aims to enable more new homes to be built nice and close to the infrastructure and amenities we already have. 

Where we are now, and the next steps

In December 2022 we completed the second phase of community engagement on this proposed plan change.

We've had 684 online forms filled out across both phases, along with extensive feedback at our drop-in sessions and through our Facebook page. This will be used to help shape the final draft of our proposal.

We're aiming to formally notify the plan change in early-2024. Once the plan change is notified, we’ll be holding a month-long public consultation. This is when we'll ask for formal submissions and if you'd like to speak to your submission at a commissioner hearing.

A final decision on the proposed plan change is expected to be made in 2024-25. If the plan change is confirmed, property owners or developers can then choose whether they’d like to build medium density in the areas that have been rezoned.  

We need a plan because we’re growing fast

Palmy will likely become a metropolitan city by 2030, meaning we’ll be a city of more than 100,000 people. Our population growth is being driven by sectors like defence, health, freight and logistics, and big infrastructure projects like Te Ahu a Turanga – Manawatū Tararua Highway. These are all are generating strong employment opportunities, and more people wanting to live here means we’ll need more houses. 

In 2020, the government placed requirements on Council to set housing targets and make sure our city’s infrastructure and services will be able to meet future demand. To do this Palmy needs 5,000 new homes over the next 10 years, and 13,000 new homes over the next 30 years.  

Palmy plans to build more homes in urban areas than greenfield areas in the short term.

Palmy gets to choose what this could look like for our city 

The new government standards have different rules for cities depending on their size. You can read more about this in the National Policy Statement on Urban Development

Bigger cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are Tier 1, which means almost all their residential areas will be rezoned for higher density housing unless they’re categorised as unsuitable. For example, heritage areas. 

Palmy is a Tier 2 city like Dunedin and Nelson, which means the rules for us are not quite as strict. We’re still obligated to change our District Plan and allow for more housing. But we’ve got a bit more choice in how we do it. This gives us a few more options to come up with a plan that suits Palmy’s identity, capacity and needs.  

Where we propose the zone will be

We think our Medium Density Residential Zone should be located within a 5 to 10 minute walk of things people need, like public transport, shops, schools and green space.

The outline of our proposed Medium Density Residential Zone can be seen in yellow on our interactive zone map.

Tip: Zoom in or use the search bar to see if your property is included in the proposed zone for medium density housing. Areas within 800 metres of our city centre are already enabled for medium density housing.

Open map in a new window

These areas have been identified for inclusion in the new zone based on their walkable distance to: 

  • bus stops (within 500m)
  • parks or reserves (within 300m)
  • schools (within 800m)
  • a shopping centre (within 800m)  

It's about creating easy living homes and neighbourhoods

Instead of enabling housing intensification everywhere, we're proposing to create a new Medium Density Residential Zone around places within a walkable distance to parks, shops, schools and public transport. 

Housing in this zone could be a bit taller, up to 3 storeys, and closer together. Section sizes in this zone could also be smaller, with landowners able to subdivide down to 150m². Under our current rules, sections can be subdivided down to 350m² and can house up to 2 dwellings.

The types of housing within the Medium Density Residential Zone could include duplexes, multi-units, town houses and apartments. This would widen the range of housing options available from what we have today, which is mostly stand-alone homes on single sections. These would still be allowed too, but more choices would be available for people who want something different to fit their needs. See the photo gallery at the bottom of this page for examples.

The proposed plan change aims to cut red tape and make housing more accessible. Enabling more housing within the urban area we’re already using can reduce our climate emissions by making it easier for people to walk, bus, scooter or bike to get around the city, instead of relying on cars.

It would also reduce the amount we’d need to build outward into our rural environment.

Though neighbourhoods will change over the coming decades, it’s unlikely this will happen all at once. Medium density housing is already allowed in many areas within 800 metres of the city centre and around neighbourhood shopping centres at Awapuni, Highbury, Hokowhitu and Milson. What we’ve seen in these areas is a gradual change, with some developers building more densely on each site and others sticking with traditional homes.

If single dwellings are one end of a sliding scale that has high-rise apartments at the other end, then other housing types are the missing middle.

Medium density homes are often called the "missing middle" between single detached family homes and apartment blocks. They provide a range of options currently missing from our property market.

We’re proposing that some development could occur without resource consent 

 In some instances, resource consents for development are notifiable. This means people living around the area that may be impacted are informed of the development and can raise any concerns they may have.  

While the government has set some specific rules for Tier 1 cities, we’ve adapted some of those in ways we think are better suited for Palmy. This means we could cut some red tape so that housing can be built faster, but in a way that suits our city’s unique identity. 

To better enable medium density housing, we’re proposing that a resource consent would not be needed, as long as developers meet the standards we’ve set out in the proposed plan change.  

We’re proposing that resource consent wouldn’t be required in these instances:  

  • up to 3 storeys, minimum site size 150m² per dwelling. Building consent will still be required.  
  • up to 6 units/homes as part of a development. Anything more than this would require resource consent.  

Resource consent would be required where developers are proposing more homes than we permit, or if they don't meet our permitted design standards (see a detailed list of our proposed standards below).

Proposed design standards

Proposed design standards for the medium density residential zone(PDF, 168KB)

We need to make it safe for you to move around, and that is a top priority 

Back in 2020, the government removed our ability to require minimum car parking for developments. This means it would be up to a developer to decide if they want to supply car parking as part of their plans. Council does not have a say in this. People choosing to live in these areas will need to consider how much parking may, or may not, be available in any new developments. It’s also why one of the requirements is to be close to a bus stop.  

With more people living in an area, it’s important our footpaths remain safe for everyone. We’re proposing to introduce requirements for fences of new builds to be low enough so that people passing can clearly see cars exiting the driveway, and drivers can see the footpaths and whoever is on them.  

Our environment matters 

Allowing more housing within the urban area we’re already using helps reduce the need to expand into our rural environment. This protects the productive soils around Palmy that we need to grow food for us and other markets. It also helps reduce our climate emissions by making it easier for people to walk, bus, scooter or bike instead of relying on cars to get around the city.