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Unitary Plan Myths Busted

Jess Driver answers the most commonly asked questions relating to the Auckland Unitary Plan.

By: Jess Driver

1 December 2018

The Unitary Plan, I’m sure you’ve all heard of it but do you know what it really means for your site? There are many rules and varying views on how best to interpret them, often contacting those in the know can lead you on a rabbit hunt to find the correct answer, and you’ll receive different advice depending on who you talk to at the council. This is why it’s important to align yourself with experts in the field, such as a real estate company that has a focus on selling development sites and works alongside experts with a focus on the Unitary Plan.

Additionally, an experienced development consultant and planner are worth their weight in gold when seeking out advice on property and land; they advise us on how best to unlock equity in potential sites and the specifics around building/density and height allowances for client future projects.

There are over 30 different zones under the Unitary Plan and many common misconceptions associated with each and every zone. The most common zones related to residential land owners are: single house zone, mixed housing suburban zone, mixed housing urban zone (MHU) and terrace housing and apartments zone. Below I debunk some of the most common myths.

Myth Debunked:

Minor dwellings are no longer permitted in the Unitary Plan

FACT: Single house zone allows for minor dwellings to be built alongside already existing houses.

In this zone, you can have a minor unit/dwelling, no larger than 65m2 and it needs to have its own outdoor area (5m2 for studio and 8m2 for twobedroom). This is also subject to general development controls.

This is the only zone which doesn’t have controls on requirement for outlook space and outdoor living space sizes for units (the outlook setback is always a difficult one for other zones).

Myth Debunked:

You need a resource consent to build multiple dwellings on a mixed housing suburban or urban site

FACT: On mixed housing suburban and urban sites, three dwellings are permitted as of right on site, subject to compliance with all development standards without a resource consent however, if you intend to subdivide then this always needs consent.

Mixed housing suburban typically allows for two storeys to a maximum building height above existing ground of eight metres, however if you are developing on a sloping site and employ some clever design it can be possible to build up to three storeys.

Myth Debunked:

MHU and urban are essentially the same give or take 5% more building coverage on urban sites

FACT: MHU zone opens up a wider range of possibility for intensification through clever design. The zone envisages three storey terrace houses and low-rise apartments (also three storeys), which enables landowners to utilise the site much more efficiently. An example of this is designing units which occupy a much smaller building footprint whilst maximising the available three storey height limit. This allows you to achieve the desired gross floor area, also enabling more units on site.

Myth Debunked:

Terrace housing and apartment building zone only allows for high density and the council will reject my submission for a duplex and single family home

FACT: You don’t have to build terrace houses or apartments in this zone; it can be what is within your means as overall intention to intensify. You can also convert an existing dwelling like all the above zones. There is also the added bonus of not requiring parking in this zone. However, any residential development requires consent (new buildings).

It’s important to surround yourself with the right team when embarking on any form of property development. Seeking advice from agents from the initial design phase can significantly help you realise the financials of your project with future sale prices.

Property Ventures is a licensed Real Estate Agency that specialises in Investment property throughout New Zealand. They also have the NZ Property podcast/YouTube series where Mark interviews the property experts from around the country helping hundreds of thousands of investors. He can be contacted at [email protected] or 0800 NZPROPERTY (697767) Or watch the Podcast/YouTube video at www.propertyventures.co.nz/podcasts

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