The Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 provide the direction for Plan Change 33 – enabling housing supply.
The Resource Management Act enables central government to provide national direction on matters through national policy statements and national environment standards. Councils then must implement these national directions through regional and district plans.
National Policy Statement on Urban Development
In August 2020, central government released the National Policy Statement on Urban Development. This policy changes the way we have to plan for urban growth and is about ensuring New Zealand’s towns and cities are well-functioning urban environments that meet the changing needs of our diverse communities. It requires council’s across New Zealand to remove barriers to development to allow growth ‘up’ and ‘out’ in locations that have good access to existing services, public transport networks and infrastructure.
As a Tier 1 council, we are required, amongst other things, to remove minimum car parking requirements in the City Plan, and to enable building heights and densities of at least six storeys within a walkable catchment of existing or planned rapid transit stops and the city centre.
The National Policy Statement on Urban Development was amended in December 2021 and provides the following direction to councils:
- Enabling as much development capacity as possible in the city centre
- Enable six storeys within a walkable catchment of the city centre
- Enable greater height and density within and adjacent to commercial centres commensurate with the level of commercial activity and community services.
Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021
In December 2021 the Government passed a piece of legislation to help grow New Zealand cities: the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021. It directs the councils of high-growth cities, including Tauranga, to amend their city plans so that they:
- allow people to build up to three dwellings of up to three storeys (11 metres) on most sections in residential zones, without needing to obtain a resource consent
- enable higher density housing with more building height around the city centre and identified commercial centres across the city, and close to public transport – to give effect to the government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development detailed above.
We are required by the Amendment Act to change the Tauranga City Plan to enable this, through a plan change which must be notified to the community for feedback by 20 August 2022.
The Amendment Act also sets out the process that council must take to amend the city plan which is called the Intensification Streamlined Planning Process.
The Intensification Streamlined Planning Process allows for a submission and further submission process. An independent hearings panel will be appointed to hear all submissions received and make a recommendation to council on the plan change.
If council accepts the independent hearing panels recommendation, the plan change process is finished and the amendments to the city plan finalised. If council rejects the recommendations, the Minister for the Environment makes the final decision on the plan change. This process does not provide for Environment Court appeals.