Proposed Plan Change 26 FAQ - Important things you need to know
New laws, aimed at building more houses, are forcing changes to Waipā’s District Plan.
In Waipā, these changes have the potential to increase housing density in the residential zone of Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi.
The law intends that in residential zones, landowners may be able to extend or build up to three houses, up to three storeys high, without needing a resource consent. The changes will also introduce no minimum lot sizes for residential subdivisions (within certain conditions)…. meaning more dwellings will be able to go on sections than have been allowed before.
Work to date indicates most parts of our residential zone in Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi will simply not have the capacity in the infrastructure (pipes, stormwater etc) to support this kind of housing intensification.
Given the infrastructure challenges, and given rising building costs, it is more likely existing property owners may take the opportunity to build rental units on their properties, without needing resource consent.
Professional developers may look for opportunities to acquire adjoining sections to build multiple townhouses.
Nonetheless, over time these changes have the potential to significantly change our neighbourhoods and the unique character we enjoy in our towns.
Work is still ongoing on this very complex issue.
But, by law, Council is required to advise ratepayers – now - of potential changes to planning rules.
Ratepayers in other growth areas in New Zealand including Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Rotorua and some smaller towns in the greater Waikato region are also being advised.
These are big changes for our district which are not supported by Council. Council does not believe a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which treats smaller towns like Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi the same as large cities like Auckland and Hamilton, suits out district. We have made our views clear to Government.
Please read this information, find out more and have your say about what is being proposed. Submissions closed Friday 30 September 2022.
For more information go to waipadc.govt.nz/planchange26
To view more questions and answers, check out the webinar we recorded on 22 August here and go to the question session at 23 minutes and 42 seconds.
Brochure for downloading or printing: What you need to know about Plan Change 26 and frequently asked questions. Available here.
Central Government has reset the rules for how some high-growth areas can develop. Two new pieces of legislation have been introduced - the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021. These directives have required some councils, including Waipā District Council, to make changes to their District Plans through plan changes.
New Zealand has a serious housing shortage. These changes, driven by the Government and also supported by the National Party, aim to see more in-fill housing built faster, especially in high-growth areas.
Here is some more information from Central Government:
No, but Council is required to make these changes by law. In November 2021, Waipā District Council publicly expressed its opposition to the Housing Intensification Bill. That opposition was repeated in April 2022 and Council has continued to lobby Government on the community’s behalf, including making a submission
Read our recent media releases:
- Webinars to explain planning changes - 15 August 2022
- Major opposition to government housing bill - 3 November 2021
- Council vows to maintain control over housing densification - 8 April 2022
- Housing changes 'tragic' for Waipa - 9 August 2022
Waipā District Council is classified by the Government as a Tier 1 territorial authority because we share a boundary with Hamilton City Council, are a high growth Council and are classified as part of the greater Hamilton area. This means it is compulsory for Waipā to implement medium density residential standards to enable intensification. You can find out more information from the Ministry of Housing and urban Development website, www.hud.govt.nz.
Learn more about the Government’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 classifications here.
We need about 212 more houses in Cambridge every year to ensure new people moving to the town have a home. Te Awamutu and Kihikihi combined would need an additional 100 houses every year. There is also a shortage of rental and affordable accommodation in Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi.
No, only residential zones in Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi will be affected by the medium density residential standards. However, the plan change includes some supporting changes to district wide provisions relating to heritage and financial contributions.
Council can only modify the medium density residential standards in limited circumstances where qualifying matters apply. Qualifying matters include matters such as cultural and heritage sites, or matters required to give effect to Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato – The Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River.
We are also aware that work to date indicates most parts of Cambridge, Te Awamutu or Kihikihi will simply not have the capacity in the infrastructure (pipes, stormwater etc) to support this kind of housing intensification. We have been cautious in drafting this proposed plan change. We want to ensure that infrastructure issues are considered should anyone apply for a land use consent for any medium density housing proposal.
On some residential sites in Cambridge, Kihikihi and Te Awamutu, where specific criteria are met and there are no qualifying matters, property owners will be able to extend or build up to three houses, up to three storeys high, without needing a land use consent. If specific criteria are not met, or qualifying matters apply, a resource consent will be needed.
Council will have less control on issues like site coverage, height, and setbacks and this may impact on sunlight, privacy and views. Some policies which aim to protect the unique heritage and character of our towns may need to be relaxed or removed to allow us to meet legislative requirements imposed by Government.
The changes will also introduce no minimum lot sizes for residential subdivisions (within certain conditions) meaning more dwellings will be able to go on sections than have been allowed before.
In practice, many residential sections will be unable to meet the criteria for full development because of maximum site coverage limits. Council expects this will lead to:
- Developers buying adjoining sections, removing houses then redeveloping multiple sections.
- Landowners taking advantage of the new standards to add smaller second or third units (including tiny houses), without the need for resource consent or subdivision.
It is important to note that none of the new medium density residential standards will have legal effect once they have been notified. This is because all of the new medium density residential zones in Cambridge, Kihikihi and Te Awamutu are proposed to have a qualifying matter overlay over them. This means that it is intended to modify the new standards to address the qualifying matter/s.
This will be tested through the formal hearing process under expert evidence. But Council has significant concerns that some existing infrastructure will not be able to cope with increased housing as required under the legislation. We have shared those concerns with the Government.
As part of these proposed changes, we have revamped the way we collect financial contributions from developers. These contributions allow Council to require money, land, or any combination of either, to offset the costs (effects) on infrastructure from new developments. It helps pay for things like pipes, roads, swales etc that are needed to service more houses.
This includes a requirement for money or land for permitted activities that don’t need a resource consent. If the required money or land is not paid, the building consent will not be issued, and the developer may be subject to enforcement proceedings.
Under the proposed new rules, neighbours will not be able to object to developments happening nearby if all the requirements and standards of the Waipā District Plan are met. Council is not required to inform or advise neighbours of all new buildings, so the first that neighbours might be aware is when construction starts. However, any new construction will still have to meet Building Code requirements.
16. How will the proposed changes affect heritage buildings, places important to mana whenua, trees of significance, rivers and lakes, natural hazard areas and special natural environments?
The Government’s legislation enables Council to modify the medium density residential standards in limited instances as a result of qualifying matters. Qualifying matters include matters such as heritage buildings, sites of significance to mana whenua, public access to rivers and lakes, natural hazards and significant indigenous vegetation.
No, only residential zones in Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi are impacted by the medium density residential standards. However, the plan change includes some supporting changes to district wide provisions relating to heritage and financial contributions.
No. The Government has already put new regulations in place which mean councils can no longer require developers to provide off-street parking. It will be up to developers to decide whether they provide it or not.
19. How will Council take on board the potential changes while preserving the character of our towns?
Dwellings will still need to meet Building Code standards. Council can only regulate a very limited aspect of the building’s design, as set out in the standards (such as height, setback, shading and open space).
In some parts of our towns, we will not have the infrastructure (pipes, stormwater etc) in place to service more houses. If that is the case, it is likely resource consent will still be required before more housing can be built (just as it is required now).
There may be a few pockets of areas where the new rules will apply immediately. We are still working through these.
Council staff expect that:
- The 50 per cent maximum site coverage requirement means it is unlikely there will wholescale intensification across entire residential zones.
- Existing property owners are more likely to take the opportunity to build second (or for larger properties, third) rental units, granny flats or tiny homes, or main home extensions.
- Professional developers may look for opportunities to acquire adjoining sections for comprehensive townhouse developments. Based on the infrastructure assessments we already have, most of these developments are expected to require infrastructure capacity assessments and/or resource consents.
The proposed new rules also strengthen the ability for Council to require financial contributions to offset and fund the adverse effects on infrastructure. These contributions may be money, land, or a combination, and include taking contributions where intensification is a permitted activity.
The Waipā Transport Strategy, adopted in May 2022, has already confirmed the need for a third bridge in Cambridge. Plan Change 26 won’t change that. Money has already been set aside for a business case to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and work on the business case will begin this year.
Yes, submissions can be made on the plan change in the usual way. However, because the medium density residential standards are imposed by Government through the Resource Management Act 1991, there will be parts of the plan change that will be unable to be changed. (See question 25).
Plan Changes 26 will be notified to the public by 20 August 2022 and residents are encouraged to have their say. More information about submissions and the ISPP will be available when the public are notified.
You can register for one of our Changes to Planning Rules webinars to learn more about Plan Change 26.
- Monday 22 August: 6pm - 7pm: Click here to register
- Monday 29 August: 6pm - 7pm: Click here to register
- Thursday 1 September: 6pm - 7pm: Click here to register
Submissions are now closed.
The opportunity to provide feedback will begin after Council formally advertises changes to the District Plan. This is called ‘public notification’.
Proposed Plan Change 26 to the District Plan will be publicly notified on 19 August 2022. Submissions will close on Friday 30 September 2022
All submissions will be considered by a panel of independent hearing commissioners, in a public hearing. You will be very welcome to attend. Note that submissions on the matters that Council can’t legally change will not be considered by the hearing commissioners.
If you don’t have a computer and would like to make your views known, visit Council reception in Cambridge or Te Awamutu and ask for a feedback form
Submissions are now closed.
Yes. The Ministry for the Environment, independently of Council, has appointed an independent advisor, known as a ‘Friend of the Submitter’ to help those who wish to make submissions. The ‘Friend of Submitter’ is on hand to help explain the process, and advise people how to make a submission.
The Ministry for the Environment has appointed Kinetic Environmental to this role. To contact Kinetic Environmental, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 027 315 0177.
The independent hearing panel will make recommendations to Waipā District Council. Council will decide whether to accept or reject those recommendations. If Council rejects a recommendation, the Minister for the Environment will make a final decision.
For information on the hearing commissioners, head to www.waipadc.govt.nz/planchange26.
Green space is very important in our district. Any open spaces and reserves that Council administers and or owns are likely to be retained for public use. Council will ensure that suitable levels of open space and reserves remain for any increase in housing.
As part of this process we have undertaken a review of character in our district. Some additional properties have been identified as containing elements of historic character and have been given additional character protection. This impacts less than 100 properties across the district. If your property is impacted, you will receive a separate letter from us.
29. Does Waipa District Council support the directive to allow three houses, three storeys high in our district?
No. This is what Government wants. But our technical reports indicate our infrastructure (pipes, roads etc) could not cope. For this reason, Waipā is proposing to only permit up to two houses on each site. Any more than that would continue to require resource consent. That is what we are proposing in our Plan Change.
- Go to waipadc.govt.nz/planchange26. The website contains more detailed information, including links to other agencies.
- Attend an online webinar. Webinars will held at 6pm on Monday 22 August, Monday 29 August and Thursday 1 September 2022. To register for a webinar email email@example.com and tell us what webinar you wish to attend.
- Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and put ‘Plan Change 26’ in the subject line.
- To make an appointment to speak to a planner, please call 0800 924 723.
- For help with a submission, and to find out what can and can’t be changed, contact Kinetic Environmental at email@example.com.
These are questions asked by our community answered in this webinar:
- If a property owner can build 3 houses, 3 storeys high on their site without land use consent; but the Council can regulate aspects of their building’s design set out in the standards, is this a contradiction?
- Is housing intensification able to happen in the new developments being built outside the Cambridge’s Green Belt?
- How are you identify new character clusters? Is this based around main throughfares and not low traffic areas?
- If a house is in a new heritage cluster but has had a significant modern extension added to the rear, would the house be identified due to the character from the front, or would it be removed from the cluster?
- If we plan to carry out work before the rules change, will it be assessed based on the proposed qualifying matters or the existing ones?
- The map of qualifying matters on your website shows a zone surrounding the streams where floods are possible. Are these flood areas exempt from the new legislation?
- If a site is 600m2, can it be subdivided under the new plan?
- As intensification is most likely to happen on the northern side of Cambridge, will you be look at a new sewerage treatment plant and land surrounding it at Hautapu? At the same time, utilising the land for growing silage/hay to help fund the sewage plant?
- As a specific and robust qualifying matter, is the 30-year $10.4M cycle plan in Cambridge, Kihikihi and Te Awamutu going to be negatively affected by the carparking side effects of medium density housing?
- What planning is being undertaken by Council and third parties to ensure they meet the increased demand for services required with more houses being built?
- What provision has been made to supply adequate water supply, i.e. new reservoirs and taking more water from rivers?
- My neighbouring property has potential for future development. Would the new property owners be required to build to the height to boundary restrictions that currently exist? If so, what are the current height to boundary restrictions currently in place to protect privacy and daylight?
- I live in a new subdivision where there are protective covenants and some of the proposals appear to contravene those covenants. Which will take precedence?
- Is PC26 likely become operative three, six, nine or 12 months after the feedback period closes? (or other)
- Will the Cambridge town belt be protected from any building on it?
- As I understand it, Kinetic Environmental can’t write submissions on behalf….is that correct?
- What protection does a homeowner have under this legislation if they have invested in solar panels?
- If new townhouses are built, will the towns then comprise mainly renters?
- As this is mandated by central government, what chance does the Waipa DC team think they have to modify these changes to suit Waipa and the "50-year plan"?
- How will the intensification affect schools and class sizes?
- As I understand it, all plans appear are being expedited. If the changes go through, will land use open for development in 2035 now be available?
These are questions asked by our community answered in this webinar:
- How can we find out if a specific area falls into the areas demarcated for these changes? I would like to know if St Kilda is protected by current covenants or whether we can expect these changes. I have seen the map at the Wilson Street offices but its quite small and I'm not sure of the answer.
- In terms of not having to provide parking, if houses are on a round a bout like on the corner of Thornton Road and Robinson Street in Cambridge are there exemptions to still have to provide parking because there is simple nowhere to provide safe off street parking?
- Under map 56 Qualifying Matters - Cambridge as proposed by Plan Change 26 - there are 3 Qualifying Matters currently identifying river/ gully proximity, stormwater & infrastructure constraints. This 'blanket overlay' looks to be a very heavy-handed approach, that makes delivery of affordable housing even more difficult to achieve. Well planned intensification lends itself to areas situated within close proximity/walking distance to services - not on the outskirts of a town/city. Thoughts?
- Do you already require every dwelling to be constructed to provide carparks? it's my understanding that carparking is already not a requirement to construct a dwelling.
- Does WDC population modeling support the need for massively increased housing demand and the changes?
- If the Council are against housing intensification in Waipa, why has it allowed this to happen in various subdivisions around Cambridge?
- Does the Council feel Waipa has been singled out because of our stance on 3 waters?
- I saw at a recent Council meeting that it could cost millions to upgrade infrastructure to enable these large buildings. Do you think the Government are trying to frighten us?
- Do you think the Government is purposely collapsing good water management by forcing Tier one councils to intensify housing and put pressure on our utilities so as to force the three waters Bill.
- Will we lose any of the current green space that we enjoy around Cambridge (as we know Cambridge today) and is there an intention to keep the rural ambiance of Cambridge?
- Developers aren't going to build if there isn't going to be the demand for them and added demand would have to come from a growing population. If your own modeling says that expected population growth falls within the expected current growth expectations, why do you think there will suddenly be a surge in population growth to drive the demand for new developments?
- What is our max expected population over say the next 2, 5, 10 years?
These are questions asked by our community answered in this webinar:
- Do you think it is beneficial for people in rural to submit a submission?
- The character area review (appendix 4, section 5) recommendation provided a recommendation that some properties are to be afforded heritage registration in their entirety. Has the recommendation completed for Council been accepted in full, as you previously stated you are looking to establish character clusters to define heritage status?
- The character area review recommends in some cases that the front component of the property remains in garden and unbuilt to retain the heritage value of the house. Is it Council's intent to place controls on the yard / large vegetation to retain this? If so, will you actively manage and maintain the large trees or will you expect the householder maintain the trees? Will this result in trees having protection status where it has been recommended the front component of the property remains in garden and unbuilt?
- How do you Identify when medium density setback and HIRB rules apply. eg. Only one residence is built in a staged development. Do all two (or three) dwellings need to apply for a building consent at the same time?
- I note you stated the current plan, and your proposed plan change response proposes to allow only 2 households on one site. We have a site with a large rear site area that can sustain an additional build to the rear of the section. Under the proposed change, I understand we will still be able to add an additional unit / new title – is this the case for a site included in the character cluster? We note that the area available could sustain 2 households on a new title – would Council then not permit this action should a new title be capable of sustaining more than one household?
- Developing farmland into urban land through urban sprawl creates higher emissions than higher intensity housing. Infrastructure requirements are as a whole less not more, than low density housing. This can be understood when you consider all the additional roads and services required for low density housing. If you think into the future, places like Hamilton and Auckland struggle with problems due to low density urban sprawl, and are now actively trying to get people back into centres with higher density living. Do you agree?
- I note that where an additional dwelling is allowed to the rear of a site within the character Cluster, it is on the basis that it is in keeping with the original dwelling. In an instance where an additional dwelling would not be visible from the streetscape and with this being the case, would WDC wave the requirement for the dwelling to be in keeping with the original dwelling? Would WDC assess on a case by case basis?
- What is Council doing to ensure they protect prime farming land from being swallowed up by housing?
- Where can we locate the planning maps that define WDC's character properties / clusters if not as per recommendations provided within the review appendix?