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Residential developments in the suburban residential zone

We want to make it easier for people to build more compact types of homes in Tauranga, like duplexes and rows of townhouses/terraced houses in areas that are not at risk from natural hazards.

We’re proposing some changes to the City Plan to make building duplexes a permitted activity in the suburban residential zone, in areas not at risk from natural hazards. This means that people wouldn’t need to apply for a resource consent to build a duplex anymore, making it easier, cheaper and faster. 

We are also proposing to make the consenting process easier for more than two dwellings on a site (e.g. townhouses/terraced houses) by making these a ‘restricted discretionary activity’ (instead of a ‘discretionary activity’) in the suburban residential zone, and in areas with enough infrastructure capacity and not at risk from natural hazards. This means that people will still need to apply for a resource consent to ensure minimum standards and urban design outcomes are met, but it is a less complex consenting process than the one currently required. 

The suburban residential zone covers most of our existing urban areas. Other zones have different rules for subdivision, land use and development in the city plan.

Map of the suburban residential zone (77kb pdf)

What is a duplex?

A duplex is two houses that share a common wall. Duplexes are usually one or two storeys high. Here are some examples of what they could look like.  

What is a comprehensively designed development?

A comprehensivley designed development is two or more detached, or three or more attached independent dwelling units on a site where the developer and council consider design elements, built form and infrastructure in a comprehensive manner, leading to better outcomes overall. Townhouses or terraced houses are an example of a comprehensively designed development where independent dwelling units share walls on one or both sides.

Here are some examples of what they could look like.

Developing the rules for duplexes and comprehensively designed development (townhouses)

To ensure new builds both look good and that they create great spaces and neighbourhoods for us all to live in, we need to put some rules in the City Plan around what developments should look like, and what elements they should include to qualify as a permitted activity (no resource consent required) or restricted discretionary activity (simpler resource consent process required). 

To do this we took the existing City Plan rules for standalone houses in the suburban residential zone (permitted activity) and identified how we could adapt these rules for duplexes and townhouses. 

Rules for standalone houses that we’d keep the same for duplexes and/or comprehensively designed developments:

Current rule for standalone houses: 9 metres maximum

Proposed rule for duplexes and/or comprehensively designed developments: Same rule

Reasoning: Keeping the bulk and scale of the developments the same as what people can currently build in the zone ensures that the privacy of neighbouring properties is retained and reduces the potential visual dominance and overshadowing effects of developments.

Current rule for standalone houses: 

  • 1.5m side and rear boundary
  • 3m front setback (from road)

Proposed rule for duplexes and/or comprehensively designed developments: Same rule

Reasoning: Keeping the bulk and scale of the duplexes the same as what people can currently build in the zone ensures that the privacy of neighbouring properties is retained and reduces the potential visual dominance and overshadowing effects of developments.

Current rule for standalone houses: 2.7m then 45 degrees or 55 degrees subject to orientation

Proposed rule for duplexes and/or comprehensively designed developments: Same rule

Reasoning: Keeping the bulk and scale of the duplexes the same as what people can currently build in the zone ensures that the privacy of neighbouring properties is retained and reduces the potential visual dominance and overshadowing effects of duplexes.

Current rule for standalone houses

  • 45% for sites of 500m2 or greater
  • 55% for sites less than 500m2

Proposed rule for duplexes and/or comprehensively designed developments: Same rule

Reasoning: Keeping the bulk and scale of the duplexes the same as what people can currently build in the zone ensures that the privacy of neighbouring properties is retained and reduces the potential visual dominance and overshadowing effects of duplexes.

Rules for standalone houses that we are proposing to amend: 

Current rule for standalone houses: 

  • 1 independent dwelling unit permitted per 325m2
  • 1 principal independent dwelling unit + one secondary independent dwelling unit per 500m2 

Proposed rule for duplexes: 1 duplex (2 attached dwellings) per 400m2 as permitted (no resource consent required) (Rule 14B.3.17.2) and remove secondary independent dwelling units in Suburban Residential Zone (Table 14B.1 and rule 14B.3.13)

Proposed rule for comprehensively designed developments (more than two dwellings): no minimum or maximum density, this will be assessed through a non-notified resource consent process (Table 14B.1 and rule 14B.3.17)

Reasoning: Architectural site testing has told us that it’s possible to:

  • build a duplex on 400m2 while also meeting all the other requirements outlined like setbacks and site coverage.
  • build a row of townhouses with a density of one independent dwelling unit per 140m2 of site area, while meeting all the requirements outlined like setbacks and site coverage. A commonly-sized site in the Suburban Residential Zone (720m2) could therefore provide up to five independent dwelling units through a comprehensively designed development.

Current rule for standalone houses: 

  • Minimum total area: 50m2 
  • Minimum dimension of main outdoor space: 3m x 4m
  • Can be provided at ground floor level or split between a balcony and ground floor level.

Proposed rule for duplexes (14B.3.17.5) and/or comprehensively designed developments (14B.6.24.5): reduce from 50m2 to 30m2, but with additional requirements like access to sunlight and from living areas.

Reasoning: While reducing the minimum outdoor living areas, the proposed changes also provide for a more useable space that is easily accessible to living areas and sunlight.

Current rule for standalone houses: At least 4.5m from the road boundary.

Proposed rule for duplexes (14B.3.17.3) and/or comprehensively designed developments (14B.6.24.3): At least 5m from the road boundary.

Reasoning: Increasing the setback of garages/carports with direct vehicle access to a road will ensure that a car can park in front of a garage without hanging over the footpath.

Rules we're proposing to specifically add for duplexes and comprehensively designed development:

Current rule for standalone houses: No rule for this currently

Proposed rules for duplexes (14B.3.17.6) and/or comprehensively designed developments (14B.6.24.6): Minimum gross floor area (excluding garages): 

  • Studio: 35m2
  • 1 bedroom: 45m2
  • 2+ bedroom: 60m2

Reasoning: Requiring a minimum dwelling size will provide for liveable and functional houses that meet the needs of residents and can be adapted to changing needs.

Current rule for standalone houses: No rule for this currently

Proposed rules (14B.3.17.7, appendix G) for duplexes and/or comprehensively designed developments (14B.6.24.7, appendix G):

  • Outlook space of 4m x 4m from main living area or studio unit
  • Outlook space of 3m x 3m from one bedroom
  • Outlook space of 1m x 1m from all other habitable rooms

Reasoning: Creating separation between buildings to ensure privacy and more onsite amenity for residents.

Current rule for standalone houses: No rule for this currently

Proposed rules for duplexes (14B.3.17.8) and/or comprehensively designed developments (14B.6.24.8): Minimum waste storage area of 5m2 per unit, with minimum dimension of 1m, screened if located adjacent to the road frontage or open space.

Reasoning: Minimum waste storage area of 3m2 per unit, with minimum dimension of 1m in any direction and, screened if located adjacent to the road frontage or open space and from adjoining residential sites.

Current rule for standalone houses: No rule for this currently

Proposed rule (14B.3.17.9) for duplexes: For independent dwelling units facing the road, the primary entrance must face the road with a pedestrian access separate from the driveway. For independent dwelling units facing the road or open space zone:

  • At least one habitable room with a clear glazed window facing the road
  • Minimum area of glazing of 20% along the front façade
  • No more than 45% of the front façade shall be garage
  • Garage must be setback behind the front façade

Reasoning: To avoid large blank facades with no glazing and to ensure that roads and open spaces are overlooked. This will increase safety for road and open space users, through a sense of being overlooked.

Current rule for standalone houses: No rule for this currently

Proposed rules for duplexes (14B.3.17.10) and/or comprehensively designed developments (14B.6.24.9): Maximum fence/wall height: 1.2m on road frontage. Corner sites only need to achieve this on 50% of the frontage.

Reasoning: Providing a maximum fence height in the front yard to ensure development overlooks the street, enhancing safety of the street and house.

Current rule for standalone houses: No rule for this currently

Proposed rule (14B.2.14 and appendix 4S) for comprehensively designed developments:

Require that the following minimum number of on-site bicycle parks are provided for townhouses:

  • 1 per 3 bedrooms for residents
  • 1 per 20 independent dwelling units for visitor bicycle

Reasoning: Requiring cycle parking in lockable enclosure, garage, shelter or compound to support sustainable transport modes.

Urban design assessment criteria

To ensure new builds look good, meet community needs and are great spaces to live in, new policies and assessment criteria are proposed to support good urban design outcomes in the city. These will apply to comprehensively designed development in the suburban residential and city living zones and residential activities in the Commercial Zone.

We have prepared an urban design guide, the Residential Outcomes Framework, that provides guidance on how these policies and assessment criteria can be met.

Find out more on the proposed residential outcomes framework

Other assessment criteria

We’re also considering including criteria in the City Plan to address matters such as capacity of network infrastructure, and natural hazards.

Capacity of network infrastructure: An assessment to determine if appropriate infrastructure capacity (water supply, wastewater, transportation) is available in the local network to service the development will be required as part of a resource consent application.

Infrastructure capacity Natural hazards, including stormwater management

Good to know

Remember, visible change in the city through this plan change would not happen all at once. It would happen over time as development occurs across the city, as people decide to redevelop their sections in existing residential areas. Read up on the other topics we are taking into consideration as we develop this plan change:

Direction from central government More on the plan change FAQs

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