Housing intensification to be boosted by adopting Medium Density Residential Standards

The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 requires councils in New Zealand’s largest urban areas to adopt medium density residential standards to boost housing supply and enable more types of housing.

New intensification rules will allow buildings of up to three storeys on most sites in cities without any need for resource consent from August 2022

Enabling density in and around our largest cities

Increasing urban density is critical to addressing the housing shortage in New Zealand 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, there is more investment in the parts that enhance a community such as parks and open spaces, streets, schools, health services, and businesses. It also supports more even growth across cities. This is critical to creating thriving communities where everyone has a place to call home.

By removing restrictive planning rules, New Zealanders can expect to see more medium density homes being built across more of our major cities.

Medium density residential standards

The Medium Density Residential Standards enable people to build up to three units and three storeys on most sites in Auckland, and greater Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch 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 NPS-UD.

Councils must publicly notify their proposed changes to their district plans by the end of August 2022. Exceptions to individual sites and areas will apply based on qualifying matters set out in the NPS-UD.

Density standards

District plans must include the density standards shown in the table below (or standards that enable greater development) from August 2022.

Density standards
Number of residential units per siteMaximum 3
Building height Maximum 11m+ an additional 1m for pitched roof 
Height in relation to boundary  Maximum 4m + 60° recession plane  
SetbacksMinimumFront yard: 1.5mSide yard: 1m

Rear yard: 1m (excluded on corner sites)

Building coverage Maximum 50% of the net site area 
Outdoor living space (one per unit)MinimumGround floor: 20m2, 3m dimension
Above ground floor:8m2, 1.8m dimension
Outlook space (per unit) MinimumPrincipal living room: 4m depth, 4m widthAll other habitable rooms: 1m depth, 1m width
Glazing  Minimum20% glazing of the street-facing facade
Landscaping Minimum20% of the developed site with grass or plants

Implementation deadlines and guidance

Auckland council need to publicly notify the new rules and policies enabling medium density and intensification in their district plans by 20 August 2022.

Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Ministry for the Environment will provide implementation support to councils. Together, they will also develop a national medium density design guide, in consultation with local government, mana whenua, and industry stakeholders.

For more information, please contact 3C Homes to see how you can take advantage of this legislation to build 3 residential units without requiring the resource consent from Auckland Council.