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Variation 3 Enabling Housing Supply

Submissions and Further Submissions on Variation 3 have now closed, except for the submission lodged by Pokeno and West Pokeno Limited.  This submission was omitted in error from the summary of decisions requested advertised on 5 December 2022. Refer below for the links to the public notice and submission form for this submission.

The next step in the process is the hearing of the submissions. The submissions will be heard by an Independent Hearing Panel with two hearings being planned for 2023:

  • The joint hearing on strategic matters was held during the week of 14 February 2023
  • The hearing for Variation 3 was held on 26 July 2023 and has been adjourned until November 2023.
Summary of decisions requested

Session 1 Joint High Level Issues Hearing

Hearing 1 recordings

Council’s Rebuttal Evidence

Legal Submissions

Submitter expert evidence

Legal submissions

Variation 3 hearing files
Letters to Ministry of the Environment

Waikato District Council is delaying notification of the Variation 3 as it carefully considers the impacts and specific requirements for its communities. We have accordingly sought the Minister of Environment’s support for an extension to the notification date, to be 19 September 2022. A 30 day public submission period will still be provided. 

Waikato District Council are grateful to the Minister for acknowledging the additional time needed to ensure this is delivered properly for the Waikato District, and noting that this will not delay the end result in terms of notifying a decision in March 2024. 

Hearing panel directions
Expert conferencing joint witness statements
Want help with your submission?

If you have any questions about how to prepare for the hearing, the Ministry for the Environment has provided funding for an independent ‘friend of the submitter’ service to help you. This service is being provided by Kinetic Environmental, a independent planning consultancy based in Hamilton.

Kinetic Environmental has a team of qualified planners who are available to advise you on the hearing process, including guidance on preparing a statement and presenting to the Hearing Panel.

You can contact them by email at or phone 027 315 0177.


Enabling Housing Supply Variation 3 to the Proposed Waikato District Plan FAQs

The purpose of Variation 3 to the Proposed Waikato District Plan is to change the subdivision and building rules in the Medium density residential zones in the towns of Huntly, Ngaaruawaahia, Pookeno and Tuakau.

What is the district plan?

A district plan sets the rules for land use, development, and subdivision.

Every development project taking place in the Waikato District needs to be assessed under the Waikato District Plan to determine if resource consent is required.

Waikato District Council (Council) is notifying proposed changes (Variation 3) to amend the Proposed Waikato District Plan (PDP).

Why is the Council making changes?

These changes are directed by central government under the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021. However, Waikato District Council is aiming to do this in a managed way; one that respects our environment and the features of our district that are important to us.   

Council must apply the changes in Huntly, Ngaaruawaahia, and Tuakau because those towns had a population of over 5000 people in 2018. Pookeno has been included as it is intended to be a future urban environment and services the Auckland labour market.

Where can I view the variation?

From 19 September 2022, you can view full details of the variation, including the relevant Planning Maps, at:

What does Variation 3 do?

The changes set out by central government are not optional. However, we want to ensure we do not apply a generic approach. After careful consideration, Council is seeking the following approach:

  • Renaming the existing Medium density residential zone in Huntly, Ngaaruawaahia, Pookeno and Tuakau to Medium density residential zone 2;
  • The existing rules of the Medium density residential zone enable three, three storey residential units as a permitted activity if all the standards are met. The new zone retains that approach;
  • The new zone is applied within walking distance of the four town centres and largely aligns with the existing Medium density residential zone;
  • Amending the subdivision rules for the Medium density residential zone 2 so residential subdivision is a controlled activity;
  • Retaining the current provisions for the General residential zone around the outer fringe of Huntly, Ngaaruawaahia, Pookeno and Tuakau; and
  • Relies on the existing rules to limit development on sites where there is a special feature, such as a significant natural area or the Waikato River as an outstanding natural landscape.
  • Limiting development on sites close to activities that are incompatible with intensive housing such as  nationally significant infrastructure.

What is a qualifying matter?

A qualifying matter is a feature that makes intensive housing not suitable or limits the number of houses that can be put on a site. Examples include a feature such as a protected historic heritage building, or sites next to important infrastructure like a state highway. 

What does this mean for papakaainga development?

Papakaainga development on Maaori land is permitted across the district. There are currently no limits on the building height or number of units able to be built for papakaainga.

Variation 3 is not proposing any changes to the papakaainga provisions. However, the changes will increase the number of units available to be developed by whanau Maaori on General land where this is located within the four towns.

What happens to waterbodies and access?

Natural character of waterbodies and Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato have been identified as a qualifying matter.

We are keeping the current approach of setting buildings back from waterbodies but applying them to the Medium density residential zone 2. We are keeping a maximum level of impervious surfaces to ensure there is sufficient area for soakage and stormwater management. The intent is that this will help preserve the health and well-being of our awa.

What happens to historic heritage rules?

Historic heritage has been identified as a qualifying matter. The provisions of the Historic Heritage chapter will continue to apply to those areas identified on the planning maps as being a Historic Heritage item.

What considerations have been given to sites and areas of significance to Maaori?

Sites and areas of significance to Maaori have been identified as a qualifying matter. Variation 3 is not proposing any changes to the existing rules to these scheduled sites.

What considerations have been given to natural features, landscapes, and significant natural areas?

Natural features such as outstanding natural landscapes and significant natural areas have been identified as a qualifying matter in our approach.

The provisions of the Ecosystems and Indigenous Biodiversity will continue to apply for clearance of indigenous vegetation and significant natural areas.

Similarly, the existing rules of the Proposed District Plan will continue to protect the outstanding natural landscapes.

What about natural hazards and infrastructure?

The provisions of the Natural Hazards and Climate Change chapter will continue to apply to those areas identified on the planning maps as being potentially affected by a natural hazard​, including:

  • Flood plain management area and Flood ponding area​
  • High risk flood area​
  • Defended area (Residual risk)​
  • Mine subsidence risk area

We are proposing to retain setbacks from nationally significant infrastructure, including:

  • State highway​
  • Rail​
  • Gas transmission​
  • National Grid

How does Variation 3 relate to the appeals that have been received on the decisions to the Proposed Waikato District Plan?

The decisions on the Proposed Waikato District Plan included areas zoned for Medium density residential development. The proposed Variation will mean that there will be additional areas zoned for Medium density residential development.

Will Variation 3 result in more development?

The existing Medium density residential zone is very similar to the level of development enabled by the Act so the differences between the new zone and existing zone are modest.  The existing Medium density residential zone allows 3 houses of 3 storey height on each site (if they meet the standards) which is the same as the Act requires. The areas of difference between the existing and new zone are around some of the standards, such as requiring windows to face the street and having outlook spaces around windows.

Are any sites proposed to be rezoned?

There are 444 sites in the four towns which are proposed to be rezoned to Medium density residential zone 2. Two rural sites on Helenslee Road Pookeno are proposed to be zoned as General residential zone as they are completely surrounded by residential properties. 

The Medium density residential zoned sites in the four towns are proposed to be converted to Medium density residential zone 2. 

Why is higher density restricted on the outer fringes of each town?

This is because of a qualifying matter: urban fringe. Concentrating intensive residential development within walking distance of town centres supports a range of other transport methods such as walking, cycling and public transport. It supports the economic viability of the town and having employment opportunities close to home.

Where we are in the process

  1. January 2022
    Prepare Variation 3 to Proposed District Plan
  2. September 2022
    Public notification and submission period opens
  3. October 2022
    Summarising submissions
  4. December 2022
    Further submissions
  5. February, May, June, July 2023
  6. End 2023 - Start 2024