The version of the Unitary Plan released last week and recommended by the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) almost doubled the number of dwellings that they believe can feasibly be built over the next 30 years. By far the biggest change comes from enabling more dwellings within the existing urban area which goes from 84,000 in the version of the plan notified in 2013 up to 270,000 in the IHP version, a massive 221% increase.
While some of the increase has come about as a result of changes in the rules, most of the change is a result of changing zoning. A presentation b the council on Wednesday highlighted the 270k increase in the existing urban area had mostly been achieved by:
- Retention of all residential zones and many of the rules
- Greater spatial application of Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings (THAB), Mixed Housing Urban (MHU), Mixed Housing Suburban (MHS) across Auckland
- Location of higher density zones around town centres, along corridors and adjoining open space and schools
- Adoption of different walkable catchments for higher density zones – from 200-400m to 400-800m
- Retention of council’s position of no density controls in THAB and MHU
- Removal of density control from MHS
- Retention of zone heights
- In MHU and MHS, up to 4 dwelling units is a permitted activity (5 or more require a resource consent)
- Minor dwelling units up to 65m² permitted in Large Lot, Rural Coastal Settlement and Single House zones
- Removal of the relationships between the flood plains and Single House and Mixed House Suburban zones
- Areas previously subject to the pre-1944 overlay to be zoned similarly to surrounding areas.
In this post I thought I’d take a look at how the zoning has changed in some areas. First up, the colours used between the proposed plan and recommended plan have changed a little, the most important difference being that the MHS zoning is now a stronger colour and easier to differentiate from the Single House Zone
As a quick reminder, Single House and MHS are both limited to two storeys while MHU is limited to three storeys. Of all the zones where housing is allowed (the residential zones plus the centres and mixed use zones), around 69% of all the area is limited to two storeys and that increases to 88% at three storeys or less. In other words, only 12% of areas where people live can be greater than 3 storeys – a high rise city this will not be.
You can see that with the exception of the inner west and central isthmus (which are also mostly subject to a Special Character Overlay – but that’s another story), there is much less Single House zoning. this has mostly been replaced by MHS but you can also see a lot more THAB in and around Town Centres. There are some decent clusters allowed in the southern Isthmus in Owairaka, Three Kings and Royal Oak which would make great anchors for the proposed light rail lines. There is also more THAB allowed in other areas too, like Panmure where the Herald current favourite complaining couple are located – they should be happy their property is now worth more.
There are other little changes too such as around Morningside Train Station where the zoning has changed from mainly Light Industry to mainly Mixed Use which will allow a lot more people to live next to what will be one best located train stations after the CRL is completed.
The zoning on the isthmus is much better although I still think the IHP could have gone further in some areas.
The changes on the North Shore aren’t as pronounced as in other areas and most of the changes are tweaks around the edges.
The first thing you can immediately notice is the massive amount of extra Future Urban Zone land west of SH1. On the Whangaparaoa Peninsula there is a couple of small pockets of THAB at the Marina and a little bit in the middle of the peninsula but overall with it being almost exclusively Single House, there is very little new housing allowed which once again raises many questions about just how important an expensive project like Penlink is when there are a lot of other areas growing rapidly and which also need investment. I’m surprised there was’t more MHS in this area.
The west already had one of the better looking zoning from the proposed plan thanks to the local boards supporting density to a much greater extent that all of the other areas resulting in a high proportion of THAB and MHU. The Recommended plan has extended that further in some areas, such as the Te Atatu Peninsula. The IHP have also recommended zoning for the large Red Hills development area west of Westgate rather than having it as future urban land. We’re certainly going to need that NW Busway.
The main changes in the east appear to be in Pakuranga and up Pakuranga highway, both of which allow for more THAB to be built. All of this just makes AMETI even more important and at the very least, bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd.
There are some areas which see a decent amount of change, one such area is around Mangere Town Centre which outside of the centre itself, goes from MHS and in some cases even Single House to THAB and MHU. There is also more MHU and THAB in and around Otara. Further south there are other patches of upzoning and a few extra additions to the Future Urban Zone
Changes to zoning allows for more houses but that doesn’t mean they’ll all be taken up as not everyone is going to develop their land to the maximum allowed for under the plan and in many cases, the housing that exists today will still exist in 30 years time. That’s why the IHP have focused on having what they say is enough feasible enabled capacity and the changes in that are shown in the heat map below. One of the big differences you can see is in the west were the zoning allows for a lot of development but much of it isn’t considered feasible within the scale of this plan.
There’s a lot more detail to go into, even just comparing the differences in the maps. What are the things that you’ve noticed?