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Councillors to take a fresh look at housing


2 October 2017

Councillors to take a fresh look at housing

One possibility of what medium density residential development could look like.

Hutt City Councillors will soon consider proposals to enable medium density housing and a wider range of housing types to be built in the city. There will be a particular focus on 10 carefully selected urban centres.

Insufficient land for residential development on the valley floor, growing demand for housing and a narrow selection of housing types and sizes have long been identified as major obstacles to sustainable economic growth and fully realising Council’s vision of rejuvenating the city.

Council has been working for several years on a range of housing proposals that Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says will address housing affordability, provide space for new families and offer more suitable housing options for older residents.

“Our concern is that we don’t have sufficient housing or the right type of housing to satisfy our current population, let alone the growth we are now starting to see,” Mayor Wallace says.

“The cold reality is that if we fail to solve this problem in a thoughtful and planned way, Council’s rejuvenation strategies won’t be fully realised and our economy and our collective quality of life will suffer. A business as usual approach would be irrational.”

“One of the groups often forgotten in these debates is the young families, so vital to our social and economic life, who struggle to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder. This initiative will improve their chances to set up a home and a stable future.”

Next month, a full Council meeting will discuss proposed changes to the District Plan. These include allowing a wider range of housing, including low-rise apartments and terraced houses to be built, with a particular focus on ten centres with good access to transport, shopping, parks and schools. The proposals include raising the residential permitted building height standard in these areas to three storeys, compared to the current two storey height standard in the General Residential zone.

To ensure high-quality developments, more intensive developments requiring resource consent would have to follow a design guide.

Mayor Wallace says the proposals provide a balance between the future quality of life of all residents and the effects on existing residents.

“A lot of work has been done to remove or minimise effects of development on existing residents.”

The idea of change can cause anxiety for some people, which is natural, he says. “But if changes to our residential neighbourhoods are made thoughtfully and carefully, then housing growth is very positive. And this is precisely what we have in mind.”

“It’s also worth noting that these District Plan changes offer the possibility of a neighbourhood evolving into a medium density community. The reality is that it can take decades for this to happen.”

Council District Plan Committee Chair Cr Lisa Bridson says the proposals are important and far-reaching.

“This is why we will be taking the plan change to the public for an extended consultation period. We are asking residents to think about the future they want for Lower Hutt and to get involved in the submissions process.”

The District Plan change will be discussed at a full Council meeting on 10 October, 2017. Should the proposals be approved by Council for public notification, there will be a four-month public consultation period.


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