What is the purpose of the Housing for Everyone – Plan Change 9?

    The plan change will enable greater housing choice in Rotorua by amending the current rules. This is an important part of addressing our housing shortage because it enables more houses to be built in areas that have access to jobs, public transport, amenities and other community facilities.

    When more people live in an area, we can invest more efficiently in those things that enhance a community such as parks and open spaces, streets, schools and health services. This is critical to creating thriving communities.

    What is a Plan Change?

    A District Plan sets the framework for managing land use and development within a district and includes objectives, policies and rules to address the effects of land use and development (see more about the purpose of district plans).

    A plan change is the process for amending aspects of a District Plan such as changes to the rules and zones. 

    This is a public process where people have the opportunity to make submissions and have their say on the changes.

    Why is Rotorua Lakes Council undertaking this Plan Change?

    There is a significant lack of housing in Rotorua, which is contributing to a housing crisis. 

    The Government and the Council agreed that one way to increase the amount of housing was to make changes to the Rotorua District Plan to allow “Medium Density” housing in all residential areas. On 14 March 2022 an Order in Council (OIC) from the government directing Rotorua Lakes Council to incorporate the medium density residential standards as per the requirements of the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021.

    The Government directed Council to notify a Plan Change by 20 August 2022 to the District Plan to introduce the new Medium Density residential standards.

    What is the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021?

    It is a change to legislation that introduces new rules that replace some of the current district plan rules in order to encourage greater residential development and housing choices for communities that are experiencing an acute housing need. 

    The Act requires all relevant Councils to incorporate the new Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) into every relevant residential zone in their district plan by August 20 2022. 

    Councils have also been directed to use the Intensification Streamlined Planning Process (ISPP) for the formal statutory plan change process which will enable Councils to implement intensification faster.

    What are the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS)?

    The Medium Density Residential Standards will enable people to build up to three units and three storeys on most residential sites in the Rotorua urban environment without the need for a land use resource consent, provided all other rules and standards in the district plan have been complied with. Exceptions to individual sites and areas will apply based on qualifying matters set out in the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD).

    See more about the MDRS

About the Housing for Everyone - Plan Change 9

    What does Housing for Everyone – Plan Change 9 seek to achieve?

    • Give effect to Policy 5 of the National Policy Statement for Urban Development 2020 (“NPS-UD”) and incorporate the Medium Density Residential Standards (“MDRS”) as required under the Resource Management Act (RMA) following its amendment by the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021; 
    • Increase housing supply; 
    • Achieve a well-functioning urban environment;  
    • Enable more efficient use of urban land, including by amending building height limits;  
    • Enable a greater variety of homes that meet Rotorua’s needs; 
    • Enable Māori to express their cultural traditions and norms with particular reference to papakāinga development;  
    • Ensure development is integrated with infrastructure planning and funding for reserves; 
    • Protect historical, cultural and environmental values; and 
    • Ensure that significant risks from natural hazards are appropriately managed. 

    What parts of the District Plan are being amended?

    PC9 amends the following sections of the Rotorua District Plan:  

    -Part 1: Introduction & General Provisions 

    • Interpretation 

    -Part 2: District Wide Matters 

    • Strategic Direction  
    • Subdivision 
    • Papakāinga 
    • Hazards and Risks (flood risk and geothermal hazard) 
    • Financial Contributions 
    • Historical and Cultural Values

    -Part 3: Area Specific Matters  

    • Residential 1 & 2 Zones  
    • Commercial Zones and City Centre Zones 
    • Development Areas (Pukehangi and Wharenui) 

    -District plan zoning maps 

    -Appendix 1: Parking and Access 

    -Consequential amendments to other District Plan chapters

    Which zones do the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) apply to?

    The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 (“Amendment Act”) has defined a set of Medium Density Residential Standards (“MDRS”) that we must apply to relevant residential zones in the District Plan. 

    In Rotorua, the MDRS notified as a part of Housing for Everyone – Plan Change 9 (“Plan Change 9”), will apply to the current operative Residential 1 and Residential 2 zones, which covers most of the urban area.  

    Plan Change 9 also proposes additional rules in the Residential 2 zone to enable high-density residential development.  

    When will the MDRS have legal effect?

    The MDRS has legal effect in certain circumstances from the time Council notifies the Plan Change (20 August 2022).  This means the MDRS apply from that date to development that complies with those rules.  

    However, the MDRS will not have immediate legal effect where a “qualifying matter” applies. That is, the new rules proposed in Housing for Everyone – Plan Change 9 will only have immediate legal effect if they permit a residential unit in the Residential 1 or 2 zones in accordance with the MDRS, and no qualifying matter applies to the site. 

    What are “qualifying matters”?

    This term refers to some areas of the city that have particular features or values that require management or protection. 

    Rules in the District Plan generally manage these features or values, and in some cases, sites may be unsuitable for higher densities. For example, Plan Change 9 proposes to not extend the MDRS to the Residential 3 Zone on the basis that a qualifying matter applies (ie the relationship of Māori to ancestral lands etc). 

    These rules need to be justified through the plan change process. The Amendment Act enables height and density to be restricted where there are “qualifying matters”. Qualifying matters are characteristics of some properties or within some areas where it is appropriate to modify or reduce building height or density sought by the MDRS changes. This includes sites of cultural, historical, or ecological significance, or to manage the risks from development in areas with natural hazards. 

    Through the plan change, we must justify why qualifying matters should be given a greater level of protection than other matters in the district. These reasons, or qualifying matters, can’t be used to prohibit intensification altogether but can be used to moderate the level of building height and density in places. 

    If you think your site is potentially subject to a qualifying matter, please contact us and we can advise you of any limitations and what this will potentially mean for your development. 

    Do you need a minimum size of site in order to build 3 dwellings?

    No, but you will need to comply with the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) as they create a minimum quality of living for residents, the surrounding properties and the general amenity of an area. You will also need to comply with the other relevant rules in the District Plan e.g. vehicle access, earthworks etc. 

    If your proposed development does not comply with the MDRS or any other rules in the District Plan that apply, then you would need to apply for a resource consent. 

    Other provisions have been proposed through the Plan Change that are not part of the MDRS; this includes rules that regulate minimum dwelling size. We are also proposing a minimum lot size requirement of 250 m2 for sites that are vacant (i.e. if you want to subdivide a piece of land without an existing house or land use consent). 

Addressing housing needs in Rotorua

    How does the Plan Change relate to public housing on Fenton St?

    This Plan Change is about providing for housing choice and greater supply across Rotorua's urban environment.  

    Its purpose is to improve housing options and access for all to housing and is not focused on any specific housing solutions such as public housing.  

    Fenton Street is currently a commercial zone, which provides for tourist accommodation and conversion to houses. The Plan Change enables further mixed use of motels and housing while achieving good urban form along this key entranceway corridor.  

    How does this align with the Future Development Strategy?

    Council is developing a Future Development Strategy (FDS) that will outline a high-level approach for achieving a well-functioning urban environment. The strategy will build on the spatial plan that was adopted in 2018 and will specify where and how sufficient development capacity will be provided to meet future growth needs over the next 30 years.  

    A key feature of the long-term growth picture is greater intensification, which is central to efficient future growth and a city that functions well. The FDS is currently being developed alongside Housing for Everyone - Plan Change 9 and the supporting Residential Intensification Design Guide and will identify strategic priorities for growth.  

    What is the connection with ‘Rotorua for Tomorrow’?

    This Plan Change forms part of a series of actions we’re taking to address our vision of a ‘Rotorua for Tomorrow’. The vision is that Everybody in Rotorua deserves access to housing that suits their lifestyle and life stage, in a community that is safe to live in, with reliable infrastructure. The Plan Change is key to ensuring this vision is delivered.  

    Providing for greater intensification through enabling smaller housing types will provide more housing choice which will result in greater access to housing.  Rotorua’s housing is currently characterised by large 3-4 bedroom single storey stand-alone detached dwellings on large sections, which does not sufficiently meet the growing demand for smaller housing types that suit changing lifestyles and life stages. The Plan Change aims to enable this change. 

Outcomes of the Plan Change

    Who will these houses be for?

    Our population is growing fast and changing over time – we are getting older and families are getting smaller. We don’t all need a three or four-bedroom house, which is generally what is typically being built in Rotorua. The larger lot size requirements in the operative District Plan is a key factor contributing to the development of larger houses. 

    As our district grows, we need to ensure we have enough homes for people to live in and housing types to accommodate our changing population. To allow more housing choice, our District Plan rules need to make it easier to provide for more types of housing to meet the needs of our people. 

    For example, these changes will provide greater opportunities for a younger person or couple to access a compact first home, before starting a family. For an older person/couple it will enable them to find a smaller home after the children have left the bigger family home. 

    How will you make sure I don’t lose my attractive neighbourhood through this?

    In addition to the Plan Change with amendments to ensure good design outcomes, a Design Guide for Residential Intensification has been produced to provide best practice guidance on delivering quality intensification. 

    This guide is intended to build on the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE’s) National Medium Density Design Guide, which provides guidance on permitted levels of development under the MDRS (i.e. development of up to three residential units on a site).