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Council delays notifying district plan change to get it right for their communities

As many Tier One councils across the country continue to notify a change to their district plans that will allow for development of up to three homes, and up to 11 metres high in some residential areas, under new Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS), Waikato District Council is delaying notification as it carefully considers the specific requirements of its communities.

There are four towns within the district which meet the legislative criteria for the application of the MDRS – Ngāruawāhia, Huntly, Tuakau and Pokeno. However, it may not be appropriate for the MDRS to be applied to the entirety of the towns without some modification. This could be because of matters such as there being significant heritage or character value, or because of specific hazards, such as flooding.

Waikato District Council’s Chief Executive, Gavin Ion, says that it’s paramount the MDRS apply only to areas where it is appropriate to do so and where there are not any elevated or unmanageable risks.

“The Waikato district encompasses a wide variety of topographic and demographic considerations including agricultural and coastland, heritage sites, riverside properties, historic sites and more. We need to ensure we do not apply a cookie cutter approach in a way which could disadvantage residents in our district. Ensuring that we have a framework that is fit for purpose is critical for us as a Council, and especially to be able to continue to deliver on our promise to create communities that are Liveable, Thriving and Connected,” says Ion.

Council have accordingly sought the Minister of Environment’s support for an extension to the notification date, to 19 September 2022. A 30-day public submission period will still be provided.