Hamilton's response to Government direction for growth and the changes we must make to the District Plan (our rule book for development.).

We’re making some changes to Hamilton’s District Plan, the ‘rule book’ that guides development in our city. These changes will provide for more housing, and higher density housing, across the city. 

This means there will be changes to the rules around how you can develop your property. But it also means more homes can be closer to all the things we need like shops, jobs and public transport. It also provides for more homes, and a greater variety of homes, for the people that call Hamilton Kirikiriroa home.

We’re aiming to notify these changes for public feedback on 19 August this year. That will be your chance to find out more detail and have your say on our proposal.

Why are we making these changes?

Since 2020, Central Government has reset the rules for how big cities can grow and introduced two pieces of legislation that tells councils how they must make that happen. These are the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021.

Amongst other things, the new rules requires cities like Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Hamilton to grow up, not just out.

​Read more about the NPS-UD here.

​Read more about the Amendment bill here.

The changes set out by Government are not optional

We must change our plan to reflect the new rules. But we’re aiming to do this in a way that respects our environment and the features of our city that are important to us.

​The health and wellbeing of the Waikato River

Hamilton is the only major river city in the country.

We rely on the Waikato River to support life. We take water from it to meet our daily needs, and much of our stormwater and wastewater eventually flows back into the River.

As a council, we have an obligation to not only protect, but enhance the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River, and other connecting waterways, as we grow.

We’re guided by the vision and strategy for the river called Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato which sets the direction for how this should happen.

This is particularly important when we consider the stormwater, wastewater and drinking water requirements for new development and how this impacts the River.

For example, if our pipes aren’t big enough to cope with the demand, we have a greater risk of wastewater overflows and untreated stormwater ending up in the River.

Government has recognised that protecting the health and the wellbeing of the River should inform
how we choose to intensify the city and we’ve reflected this in our proposed approach.

Eco-density and what that means for Hamilton

Our research has found that without controls in place, intensification across all our residential areas will have a negative impact on the Waikato River.

We’re proposing a bespoke approach to how we manage density across our city that provides homes for people while also considering the needs of our River. We’re calling this approach ‘eco-density’.

We’re supporting the development of higher density housing in the central city and walkable areas around it first.

This means we can focus our investment on new infrastructure in one place to get better outcomes for our river and our community. It also aligns with our long-term strategic planning for both the city and the region.

Because we’re looking to modify the controls which central Government is directing, the new rules will not come into effect until the full plan change process is completed and decisions are made – likely to be late-2023 or early-2024.

What do we mean by density?

When we talk about density we’re talking about how compact the housing in our city is. For example, the size of our sections and how many storeys high we can build.
Low density is typically large sections, for example 800m2 with a house and a large backyard.
Higher density can be multi-level townhouses and apartments like those already seen in parts of the central city and around the university.

Preparing the draft plan change.

August 2022

Public notification (and your chance to tell us what you think).

2022 / 2023

Hearings (you can speak to your submission in person).

Late 2023

 Notification of the decision.

Early 2024

Plan change operative and the new rules come into effect.

Share this page


Has this page been helpful?
Thanks for your feedback.

Last updated 8 July 2022