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Whakaāhei wharenoho mātoru-waenga

Enabling medium density housing

It is now easier to build townhouses across the city. Here are the rules that have been set for these kinds of development.

Until recently the Tauranga City Plan allowed one dwelling (house) on a residential site up to nine metres in height, with resource consent required for more than this. The new Medium Density Residential Standards now allow people to build up to three dwellings of up to three storeys (11m height) on most sections in residential zones as a ‘permitted activity’ – which means a resource consent isn’t required.

Here are the key rules set under the Medium Density Residential Standards:

  • No. of dwellings per site - up to 3 dwellings
  • Building height - up to 11m (3 storeys) + 1m for pitched roof
  • Height in relation to boundary - Within a  60° recession plane measured  from 4metres high at side and rear boundaries
  • Setbacks
    • at least 1.5m on front boundary
    • at least 1m on side and rear boundaries
  • Building coverage - up to 50% site coverage (excluding an accessway)
  • Outdoor living space dimension
    • ground floor unit: at least 20m², with a minimum 3m dimension
    • above ground floor unit: at least 8m², with a minimum 1.8m dimension
  • Windows to street - at least 20% glazing on street-facing facade
  • Landscaped area - at least 20% of the developed site with grass, plants, trees
  • Outlook space

Ministry for the Environment: overview of Medium Density Residential Standards

When do the new standards apply?

Section 86BA provides for the immediate legal effect of certain rules upon notification of Plan Change 33. This means that from 20 August 2022, some City Plan rules that were inconsistent with the standards no longer apply.

Immediate legal effect under 86BA only applies to the use of the Medium Density Residential Standards in the relevant zones, except where:

  • Sites or parts of sites located within a Qualifying Matter Area; and
  • Sites that have been re-zoned for residential purposes under PC33/the IPI.

Other development will continue to be assessed under the existing City Plan provisions, and relevant legal tests, until further decisions are made for the Plan Change.

Town houses

It will soon be easier to build townhouses across the city.

Buildings must not exceed 11 metres in height. However, 50% of a building’s roof in elevation, measured vertically from the junction between wall and roof, may exceed this height by one metre, where the entire roof slopes 15° or more. So under these conditions, the total building height can reach 12 metres, without this requiring a resource consent.

building height

Buildings must not project beyond a 60° recession plane measured from a point 4 metres vertically above ground level along all boundaries. Where the boundary forms part of a legal right of way, entrance strip, access site, or pedestrian access way, the height in relation to boundary applies from the farthest boundary of that legal right of way, entrance strip, access site, or pedestrian access way.


Outlook space creates separation between buildings to ensure privacy and more onsite amenity for residents.

Outlook space

Any proposed development that doesn't align with these rules will require a resource consent.

Other key standards we are proposing

  • Waste Management Area
  • Size of Independent Dwelling Units
  • Fence and wall height
  • Bicycle parking requirements
  • Impervious surfaces

Plan change 33 - key documents

Where will these rules apply?

In Tauranga the standards will apply to the Suburban Residential Zone, the Wairakei Residential Zone, the City Living Zone (around the city centre), the Large Lot Residential Zone and the High Density Residential Zone (Mount Maunganui). 

Through this plan change we are proposing to combine these zones into  a Medium Density Residential Zone and High Density Residential Zone, to make our city plan simpler to use.

Resource consent would still be required for developments of four or more dwellings, but it would be easier to obtain and you wouldn’t need approval from neighbours if all our rules are met (as a restricted discretionary activity).

For four or more dwellings we are also providing more direction on design and amenity outcomes as well as considering infrastructure capacity. 

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