A planned change to the Proposed Waikato District Plan, which will see more houses built faster in high-growth areas, has been formally notified and is now open for public submissions.
Alongside other tier one councils across the country, Waikato District Council is being forced to notify a variation to the district plan that will increase housing density by dramatically relaxing planning rules. These changes 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), without needing a resource consent or permission from neighbours.
There are four towns within the Waikato district which meet the legislative criteria for the application of the MDRS – Ngaaruawaahia, Huntly, Tuakau and Pookeno.
Waikato District Council Mayor, Allan Sanson, says the situation that his council and others find themselves in is concerning and believes the Government are holding councils to ransom over this new legislation.
“The whole approach is too cookie cutter and there is no ability to tailor this for our communities to ensure that they are being considered on their own merits. To apply the same rules to the likes of Auckland and Hamilton and then use that same broad brush to consider the towns across our district is simply ridiculous and in so many other contexts just wouldn’t happen. It is a nonsense.”
The outgoing Mayor says it is the worst planning direction and outcome that he has seen in his 21 years of local politics and is disappointed that his councillors have had no choice but to sit by and begrudgingly let it happen, albeit knowing that they had at least tried to find a solution.
“Our Council echoes the views of some others and believes that the Government would achieve a better result by collaborating with councils like ours, not forcing our hand and leaving our residents with little ability to influence what happens in their own community. What we can say, is that the changes proposed in the variation focus the increased density around the town centres that are primarily within the areas already zoned as Medium Density in our Proposed District Plan. That is at least something that should provide a level of reassurance for our communities.”
It is now over to the communities across the Waikato district to have their say on what they think about the Government’s housing intensification plans. More detailed information and a submission form to share feedback in either support of, or opposition to, the changes can be found on the Waikato District Council website – here. A series of webinars is also planned where residents will be able to ask any questions or seek clarification on the proposed changes. These will be advertised through Council’s website and social media channels.
Government has funded an independent service to help those who want to make formal submissions and Mayor Sanson hopes that people will take advantage of this.
“It’s critical that our communities take the opportunity to have their say on these proposed changes – whether they support them or not. We want people to understand the extent of this legislation and how this could make their neighbourhood look vastly different to how it does today. We want the Government to hear loud and clear from Waikato District Council residents what they think and feel about that.”
Submissions are open until Friday 28 October.
For more information please contact:
Communications, Marketing & Engagement Manager
Waikato District Council
022 161 8775