The Medium Density Residential Standards in New Zealand

If you live in New Zealand, you may have heard of the new Medium Density Residential Standards that were recently announced. These standards will affect how new developments are built in neighbourhoods across the country. In this blog post, we'll take a look at what the Medium Density Residential Standards are, and how they might affect your neighbourhood.

What are the Medium Density Residential Standards?

The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 (the Act) requires councils in our largest urban areas to increase housing supply and allow a wider variety of homes to be built. This includes things like the height of buildings, the amount of green space, and the type of housing that can be built. The intention of the Act is to remove restrictive rules and allow more medium-density homes to be built across more of our major cities. This will mean more homes are built in areas that have access to jobs, public transport and other public amenities and community facilities.

How will the Medium Density Residential Standards affect my neighbourhood?

The Act requires territorial authorities in the greater urban areas of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and the Rotorua Lakes district to apply medium-density residential standards. Other councils in areas experiencing acute housing shortages may also be required to include the standards in their plans. The standards mean that up to three dwellings of up to three storeys can be developed on each site without needing to apply for resource consent, as long as all other rules and standards have been met.

The act has caused some concerns among residents within existing neighbourhoods with fear it has the ability to irrevocably change the streetscapes of existing suburbs. While it is true that suburbia will undoubtedly change with the new rules set in motion. The new rules have come directly from the central government with both major parties supporting the bill into law. This top-down approach is a recognition of the housing shortages and affordability issues New Zealand is currently facing, with New Zealand's existing housing model dating back to early European settlements when the population numbers were very different to today.

With the wheels turning and inevitable change on the horizon, it is important to look overseas to places where cities of high population densities have successfully housed more people to understand what this model may mean for your neighbourhood. The new rules don’t necessarily mean new housing will be overlooking the neighbours’ backyard, as there are still some checks and balances to mitigate this. It does mean that more nuanced and clever design solutions may be needed to overcome what might could be perceived as negative outcomes for individual property owners when it comes to building new or renovating in areas affected by the new Act. This is where Modal Architecture can help design a tailored solution to mitigate against any current or future effects that each unique site may face.

Want to hear more?

Modal Architecture is a local architectural design firm specialising in high-performance, sustainable, and lifestyle homes around New Zealand. If you want to find out more - get in touch below to discuss this article or your upcoming project.

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