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Bold New Approach To Residential Growth

25 April 2008
Infill housing: targeted areas proposed for development
Wellington City Council is proposing a bold new approach to managing future residential growth in the city. 
The approach, based on ‘areas of change’ and ‘areas of character protection’, actively encourages higher-density housing in targeted areas of Wellington, including the central city, in and around the town centres of Johnsonville, Newlands, Tawa, Miramar and Kilbirnie, and parts of Newtown and Karori, while safeguarding significant character in others.
Some infill housing would continue to be allowed in the other areas but it would be subject to greater controls on quality. Infill housing is new housing within existing areas including ‘backyard’ infill and comprehensive developments such as apartments and townhouses.
The Council’s Urban Development Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster, says targeting higher-density housing close to local centres, community services and public transport offers the best way to accommodate growth. Wellington’s population has grown by nearly 16,000 in the last five years and demographic projections showed the city will need 23,000 new homes for 37,000 more residents by 2051.
“Targeting of infill housing offers the most efficient use of public resources, relates strongly to the Council’s transport policies, and is one of the best ways to create a more sustainable city,” he says.
It means the Council may have to consider taking a proactive facilitation role to ensure the right kind of change happens, including:
Developing a vision or concept plan for each area
Reviewing investment programmes to ensure we have the right infrastructure, facilities and services in place to support growth
Entering partnership projects with other agencies (such as Housing New Zealand) and the private sector to attract investment and ensure sustainable development outcomes
Facilitating change.
Under the Council proposal, there would be ‘areas of change’ and ‘areas of character protection’. ‘Areas of change’ are those the Council believes can support increased growth, and where comprehensive housing would be encouraged, resulting in moderate to significant increases in residential density. The proposed areas of change are:
the central city, in and around Johnsonville and Kilbirnie town centres, and Adelaide Road
in and around Tawa and Miramar town centres, the Karori Road corridor and Riddiford Street
in and around Newlands local centre, Crofton Downs, Luxford Street in Berhampore, and Lyall Bay Parade.
‘Areas of character protection’ are those the Council believes have important character values that require protection from inappropriate development. The proposed ‘areas of character protection’ are:
inner residential suburbs subject to the 1930 demolition rule (eg. Thorndon, lower Kelburn, Aro Valley, Mt Cook, Berhampore, Mt Victoria, Newtown) – minus the specific areas of change proposed in Newtown and Berhampore
coastal/residential areas in the eastern/southern suburbs including Scorching, Karaka and Worser bays, Seatoun, Breaker Bay, Moa Point, part of Lyall Bay, and Houghton, Island and Owhiro bays.
Some of these areas, such as the inner suburbs, already have character protection but they may require review to ensure they are all consistent with Plan Change 38 – Residential Character in Newtown, Berhampore and Mt Cook. Further character protection of the coastal areas will likely be in the form of a coastal residential design guide.
The above list of areas may grow. See ‘Other possible areas of character protection’ for areas the Council believes requires further investigation.
The Council will release a discussion document titled How and where will Wellington grow? Proposals for change and character protection early next month. A summary pamphlet will be sent to all ratepayers along with information about how to provide feedback to the Council. Feedback is due 7 July.
The targeting infill proposal, based on 22 months of work by Council officers and backed by powerful GIS tools, is the second part of a major Council review of infill housing that began in July 2006.
The first part involved tightening key rules for new houses in District Plan Change 56, which came into effect last November. Council officers have already reported a significant improvement in the quality of applications for new residential development.
The concept of targeting infill was consulted on last year, and received a favourable response.
Apart from the issue of greater sustainability, targeting higher-density housing offers numerous other benefits, Cr Foster says.
“We will have a more vital, safer and healthier city because there are more people out on the street, and it builds stronger suburban centres because they act as hubs of busier, more densely populated communities. It also means we can spend proportionately more on a quality public realm – better quality streets and parks, roadside landscaping and community facilities.”
Encouraging infill in targeted areas offers a wider range of housing options for people, including more affordable homes in the right locations.
“In future, a growing proportion of Wellington’s residents will want high or medium-density housing – units, apartments or townhouses – because they meet a number of needs,” says Cr Foster.
“Our population is getting older and we have fewer people living in each home. The trend toward inner-city living shows no signs of slowing down.  And more intensive forms of housing extend the affordability options for people, from first-home buyers and young families to new retirees and the elderly.”

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