Growing Hamilton

Rewriting the rule book signals change ahead for Hamilton

Change is on the cards for some Hamilton neighbourhoods following a government rewrite of planning rules.

The government is requiring Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch –  the country’s big growth councils – to build up, not just out in response to the housing crisis.

Driving greater density in big cities will allow more homes and a greater variety of homes to be built.  The rule changes will also encourage smaller section sizes, more apartments and townhouses. Based on government rules, there will be no requirement to provide car parking.

District Plan Committee Chair Councillor Ryan Hamilton said the government’s intention was to put more affordable homes in neighbourhoods which already have easy access to jobs, shops, schools and major public transport routes.

That will mean big changes to Hamilton’s existing District Plan, the ‘rule book’ that guides development in Hamilton.

“The direction from Government is very clear and like other cities, we must respond to that.  Hamilton is the third least affordable housing market in New Zealand and we must consider options to build up, not just out. This provides more housing choice for our diverse and changing communities,” Hamilton said.

“But while many of the changes set out by government are not optional, not everything is set in stone. So as much as possible, we must influence what we can and get the very best outcomes for residents.  This is our city and we need to reflect what Hamiltonians want.”

The changes have triggered a community engagement programme which will launch in the next few weeks.  Councillors signed off on the programme today, noting Council will be talking to the community over the next 12 months before undergoing a formal public notification process.

The revised District Plan would not be operative until at least 2024, meaning nothing would change immediately.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said it was fair to say there was some angst among Councillors and the community about the changes ahead. She had always advocated for a better city, not just a bigger one, she said.

“These changes support our Housing Strategy and will provide for more homes, and a greater variety of homes in our city, to help make it more affordable for everyone. That’s important.  And it makes sense to put homes closer to the things we need like shops,  parks and public transport.”

“But change is not always easy and it must be done well. We must be aware of the wider impact on local neighbourhoods.  So it’s vital our wider community understand this government direction. We must be completely upfront about what it means so people can contribute their thoughts and ideas.”

Staff said initial thinking around how proposed changes might impact specific parts of city would be released later in the coming weeks.

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