RMA Amendment Bill

Published on 12 November 2021

hand holding a house

What’s happening? 

On 19 October, the New Zealand Government announced changes to planning rules that will enable more medium density housing and reduce the barriers for development. 


Key points from the announcement include: 

  • New building intensification rules will mean up to three homes of up to three storeys can be built on most sites without the need for a resource consent 
  • New rules will result in at least 48,200 and as many as 105,500 new homes built in next 5-8 years 
  • Bringing forward by at least one year the implementation of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD). Labour and National work together to provide policy certainty to developers and first home buyers 

What does this mean for Upper Hutt? 

If implemented, the Bill will (as currently drafted) enable far more intensification that we were planning for. We’ll have to make significant changes to the draft chapters for Plan Change 50. 
 We recently completed community-wide engagement on Plan Change 50, our third since 2020 before formal consultation in 2022. Over 400 individual pieces of feedback were provided on the PC50 draft proposals. 
The Government’s proposed changes would require us to rework the entire plan change, a significant amount of work and cost to Council, and our community.  


Next steps: 

We will be making a submission to the select Committee that is generally in support, however we will seek some amendments to the Bill. 
Submissions close on 17 November 2021 and the Bill is expected to be debated in December. Our key areas of focus include: 
  • The Bill does not target this intensification to areas close to shops or rail stations. 

  • The extent of intensification will be huge - the Bill proposes to enable three dwellings of three storeys to be built on almost any current residential site, a minimum of 1m from the property boundary without a resource consent. In addition, neighbours cannot be notified of a proposed development (of any number of houses) if it meets the permitted activity standards for the three storey housing. 

  • The requirements for subdivision are proposed to change so that if you can show that a ‘house’ can fit on the proposed subdivided lot, you can subdivide in residential zones (given new housing developments in Lower Hutt recently have had building footprints of 30m2 (about the area of a parking space) per house, this could mean a lot of housing in residential areas throughout the city).  

  • Buildings can be built up to 6m (two stories) straight up, 1m from side boundaries before needing to reduce the buildings impact on sunlight for the neighbouring property. Three storey buildings would need to either have the third storey reduced or locate further away from boundaries to follow sunlight provisions of (6m +60⁰ (meaning that after 6m in height, measured at the property boundary, the area for any building must not exceed a line angling inward at 60 degrees). 

  • The new requirements need to be included in our District Plan by August 2022 and will have immediate legal effect (i.e. developers can start building from August) and the provisions will be added via a streamlined plan change process, with no appeals to the Environment Court provided for.