Environmental Committee recommends amendments

Following the consideration of 966 submissions and 183 presentations of oral evidence in just under three weeks, the Environment Committee has presented its report on the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to the House.

Some of the Committee’s recommendations in the report respond to the shared concerns of the built environment professionals that have been raised by the UDF and many others. While significant concerns remain, particularly the inadequacy and the blanket rolling out of the MDRS standards and the dispersed rather than consolidated density provision, we are pleased to have been heard. We welcome the recommendation for national medium density guidelines and the recommended objectives and policies which make explicit reference to diversity of housing and well-functioning urban environments. UDF will continue to engage with the process.

UDF’s submission on the Bill had highlighted a number of issues including

  • The inadequacy of the standards accompanying the Bill to support creation of a liveable standard of urban housing capable of supporting people’s physical and mental well-being and that better addresses climate changes issues.
  • The potential for perpetual subdivision
  • The conflict between Climate Adaptation and the blanket up-zoning across the urban areas which will likely result in an inefficient urban form.

We had also suggested that

  • Intensification has to go hand-in hand with quality design
  • The UDF would support a national set of medium density standards and guidance

The environment committee’s recommends (among other recommendations) that

  • as part of implementing the bill, the Ministry for the Environment and Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga—Ministry of Housing and Urban Development would begin developing early next year, as a matter of priority, a national medium-density design guide, in consultation with local government and stakeholders.
  • provision for vacant lot subdivision is removed so that resource consent of four or more units cannot be side-stepped by splitting an existing section into two.
  • the MDRS building standards are renamed as ‘density standards’ and amended to include (among others)
    • a minimum of 20m2 outdoor living area per unit (from min 15m2 )
    • height in relation to boundary restriction starting at 5m height (from 6m)
    • front yard setback of 1.5 m (from 2m)
    • 4m x 4m outlook space for principal living windows (from 3m x 3m)
    • removal of impervious area requirement (from 60% including buildings)
    • 20% landscape requirement (from none)
    • 20% glazing requirement for front (street) facades (from none)
  • a set of objectives and policies accompany the MDRS in a schedule to the bill:
    • District plan objective 1: Well-functioning urban environments that enable all people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing, and for their health and safety, now and into the future.
    • District plan objective 2: The zone provides for a variety of housing types and sizes that respond to housing need and demand; and the neighbourhood’s planned urban built character of predominantly three-storey buildings.
    • District plan policy 1: Enable a variety of housing typologies with a mix of densities within the zone, including three-storey attached and detached dwellings, and lowrise apartments.
    • District plan policy 2: Apply the MDRS across all the relevant residential zones8 of the district plan except in circumstances where a qualifying matter is relevant. Qualifying matters include matters of significance such as historic heritage and the relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wāhi tapu, and other taonga.
    • District plan policy 3: Encourage development to achieve attractive and safe streets and public open spaces, including by providing for passive surveillance.
    • District plan policy 4: Require housing to be designed to meet the day-to-day needs of residents.
    • District plan policy 5: Provide for developments not meeting permitted activity status, while encouraging high-quality developments. We also recommend an amendment that requires territorial authorities to incorporate the objectives and policies into their respective district plans. These objectives and policies would have immediate legal effect when a council notifies their IPI.

A copy of the committee report is published on the Parliament website at the link below.

I wish to highlight in particular the ‘Differing views’ section of the report where the concerns of the UDF and the wider built environment community find more emphasized expression.

I also take the opportunity to thank the UDF Resource Management Reform working group for their hard work in a constraint timeframe in preparing the UDF submission and presentations to the Environment Committee.

The contents of the report

  • Recommendation for the Bill to be passed with amendments
  • Introduction
  • Summary of proposed amendments to the Bill
  • Discussion of issues and proposed amendments
    • Intensification streamlined planning process (ISSP)
    • Medium density residential standards (MDRS)
    • Transitional provisions
    • Financial contributions
  • Consideration of related matters
    • Infrastructure
    • Maori
    • Building design and effects of development on people and the environment
  • Differing views
    • Act Party New Zealand view
    • Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand view
  • Appendix

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