Government’s blanket approach for housing intensification isn’t right for Hamilton – that’s the blunt message from the city’s Mayor and Councillors.
Hamilton City Council is on a mission to build a beautiful river city, and Councillors at today’s District Plan Committee said Government’s one-size fits all regulation put these plans at risk, and pays no regard to the ability of Hamiltonians to shape the city they live in.
Council’s response to the Government’s directive is to change the city’s planning rules, making sure local social and environmental impacts are considered, instead of rampant and unstructured development.
Dubbed Plan Change 12, the proposed changes will modify the level of intensification directed by Government to take into consideration the impact on the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River and infrastructure required to support it. Plan Change 12 will be put before full Council on 18 August for approval before being released for public feedback.
District Plan Committee Chair Ryan Hamilton said he considered Plan Change 12 a fantastic response to a clumsy bill that wasn’t right for our city.
“Our team has spent the past six months looking at how we could make Government direction work for Hamilton; protecting the parts that make us special like the Waikato River but also providing much needed housing for our people. I think our community can be reassured we’ve done everything we can to get a balance that’s right for Hamilton in the face of poor and rushed legislation with no consultation with us.”
Arguably the most controversial rules directed by Government is the ‘three by three’ rule – which means people will be able to build up to three homes of up to three storeys on most sites, without needing a resource consent.
Councillor Hamilton said the city’s proposal will mitigate this free-for-all approach in the general residential zones through requirements for landscaping, permeability, trees, rainwater tanks, minimum lot sizes and financial contributions from developers. Higher storey buildings will be contained to the central city and walkable areas around it, including Whitiora, Frankton and parts of Hamilton East.
“The new legislation failed to recognise that Hamilton has been achieving high rates of infill housing for years through our duplex policy and already has significant capacity in the city in the pipeline. In short – we’re already doing the job well.
“Our focus on density in this way continues our work to build a vibrant central city and support business, lifestyle and housing for our people.”
The proposal also goes beyond Government requirements to provide for better environmental and transport outcomes for new developments, and the things that make our city a nice place to live, Hamilton said.
If approved by Council later this month, Plan Change 12 will be notified under the Resource Management Act 1991 for public feedback.
As Council is proposing to modify the approach set out by Government, the new rules are not expected to come into effect until the full plan change process is complete – likely late-2023 or early-2024.