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Plan Change 5 – Right homes, right place

Updates as at 27 September 2023

Consultation on Plan Change 5: Right homes; right place re-opened on Saturday 15 July after it was found that information was missing from some documents attached to the previous consultation held in October/November 2022.

A technical issue with the software programme used to convert sections of the e-plan (council’s electronic district plan portal) resulted in incomplete tables with spaces where text should have been. Members of the public were again able to make submissions to the plan change. Residents who had already made a submission could keep their submission as it was, or review the missing information and re-submit.

Submissions closed at 5pm on Friday 11 August 2023.The summary of reopened submissions was notified for further submissions on 9 September 2023 and closed on Friday 22 September 2023. Hearing dates are to be set, more information will be shared when available.

Why we’re making the change

Housing demand has increased significantly across New Zealand, including in Hastings, and we need to have homes for everyone.

At the same time we need to protect our fertile soils that provide us with both food and income from being built on.

To be able to do both, we need to focus on providing more homes within our existing urban areas – known as intensification or medium density housing. Doing that also means we make the most of the infrastructure we have in place; from roads and pipes, to access to parks and community facilities like libraries.

The change will mean more low-rise apartment style-living, three-storey and terraced homes.

While applications will require a Resource Consent, provided they meet planning and design rules they will be non-notified. That means other residents cannot object to the project.

What the Resource Consent process will do is ensure each project meets design rules so we get the best quality homes we can.

What will those rules beHDC still 00 35

Our vision is to have well-designed, sustainable, attractive housing developments that build a sense of community, while using land efficiently to protect our productive land for future generations.

As part of this Plan Change, we have strengthened the Hastings Residential Intensification Design Guide (2020). In it there are criteria that a project must meet in order to be assessed under a non-notified Resource Consent. You can read the guide (now the Hastings Residential Intensification Design Framework (2022) here.

Broadly, the criteria include things like variety of housing types and design, privacy, provision and location of outdoor living space, landscaping and low impact design.

What this means for youHDC still 00 51

For all of us, this is a different way of developing our urban areas. If developers decide to build medium-density homes within these new rules, Plan Change 5 will change the look of our urban areas.

For residents living in the medium-density zones, this means that should a developer wish to build, for example, low rise (maximum three-storeys) apartments on a section in your area, provided they meet the planning and design rules, you will not be able to object.

Which areas?

Our district is broken down into zones – this helps us identify the nature of the area and what activities may be appropriate there – i.e. business activity or residential housing. On this map we are showing only the general residential zones (yellow) and existing medium density zones (outlined in red). 

In 2015, the areas outlined in red were incorporated into the District Plan as appropriate zones for medium density housing (or comprehensive residential development). Under the current rules, medium density developments can occur in the red and yellow zones through (usually) a notified Resource Consent process. That process allowed affected parties to object to the project.

With this Plan Change, we are proposing to change these rules to make it easier to build more houses in both the red and yellow areas (noting that infrastructure capacity will be factored into where medium density can occur in the yellow area).

While most medium-density developments will still require Resource Consent, those that comply with the planning and design rules will not be notified, meaning other people will not have a say on the proposal.

Where does the Government stand on this?

The provision of homes while protecting growing soils is a national issue. To ensure councils take steps to address it, the Government has introduced two pieces of legislation setting out how councils must allow more houses to be built. These are the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021.

There are different rules for different councils, depending on whether they are adjudged by Government to be Tier 1, 2 or 3 level urban areas. Tier 1 areas are typically New Zealand’s biggest cities (allowing high rise housing), while Hastings has been assigned to Tier 2 (low rise intensification).

The Government has put deadlines on the introduction of new planning rules and Council’s timeline for Plan Change 5 has been configured to meet those deadlines.

Councils in areas identified as tier 1 or tier 2 under Government’s NPS-UD which fail to make their own plan changes, risk Government setting rules for them.

The Hastings situation we need more homes image

Since 2015 Hastings’ population has grown rapidly, pushing up demand for housing, which means we need more homes.

To cater for our people already here and those making the move to our district we need to make more housing options available. Doing what we can to broaden housing choice, including encouraging the building of new smaller homes on smaller sections, will help keep Hastings an affordable market to both buy and rent in.

What we’ve done up till now

This is not new focus for council – for 10-plus years we have focused on protecting our growing lands, while allowing for development in the future. It is one of the core goals in the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy and the Medium Density Housing Strategy.

  • 2010: HPUDs adopted to protect growing soils from development (a regional plan put together by the five Hawke’s Bay councils).
  • 2015: A District Plan review in 2015 rezoned preferred areas in the central city for medium density development.
  • 2017: HPUDs reviewed and updated.
  • 2019: Proposed District Plan Variation 5 allowed inner city apartment living in the retail zone (first floor).
  • 2021: Hastings Residential Intensification Design Guide adopted to assist property developers, builders and architects to construct well-designed, sustainable housing
    On-going: Infrastructure assessment and planning to ensure medium density housing occurs where infrastructure can cope with more homes.
  • 2022: Prepared for Plan Change and ran public consultation with Hastings community.
  • 2023: Opening Plan Change for further submissions from Saturday 25 March – Tuesday 11 April.
  • 2023: Omissions to Plan Change for submission.
  • 2023: Plan Change re-opened from Saturday 15 July to Friday 11 August after technical error in original submissions/further submissions process.

The plan change process

The first formal consultation for Plan Change 5 closed on Friday 25 November. Further submissions was open from Saturday 25 March until Tuesday 11 April 2023.

Following some omissions from the plan change notified in October 22, the Council are re-opening submissions in July 2023 and the hearing date has been postponed. 

A timeline of the process from the re-opening can be seen below.

Plan Change 5 23


Building more houses on land already zoned residential is called residential intensification. 

The Council adopted the Hastings Residential Intensification Design Guide in 2020. The design guide helps property owners and developers understand what is meant by residential intensification and how houses can be built to get the best outcomes. You will see terms like supplementary residential buildings, infill development and comprehensive residential development mentioned in the design guide – these are all ways of achieving residential intensification in an area.

Medium density housing is another term for residential intensification and refers to housing on smaller sites, usually resulting in sections of between 150m2 and 350m2. Housing types that might be considered medium density include townhouses, duplexes (two houses attached), terrace housing (three or more attached houses), and low-rise apartments – apartment buildings that are two or three storeys high.

This housing won’t all look the same. It could be one or two bedroom homes, maybe two and three-storey buildings, low-rise apartments, or terraced housing.

The picture below is an example of some two and three storey terraced housing. More images and alternative housing options can be found in our design guide.

Residential housing illustration

12 metres is the maximum height a building can be to comply with the District Plan.

There are three reasons:

  • To increase the supply of housing – so more houses can be built in existing residential neighbourhoods. Everyone should have access to housing. It is essential and underpins our hauora (wellbeing).
  • To comply with Government’s directive to increase residential intensification.
  • To protect our valuable fertile soils.

Although the Government directive means Council must plan to increase residential density, there are still matters on which you can provide feedback and make a formal submission on. They . They include: some of the areas to be intensified, the design and build rules that will mean we get the best outcomes out of the change.

Yes all Councils considered tier 1 or tier 2 under the NPS-UD are required to make changes to their District Plans. 

Tier 1 Councils include: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Tier 2 Councils include: Rotorua, Queenstown Lakes, Palmerston North, Napier, Hastings, Nelson, Tasman, Whangārei, New Plymouth and Dunedin.

You can read more about the change here.

To enable residential intensification Council needs to change the Operative District Plan.  The Hastings Operative District Plan is the rule book for development and activities in the Hastings District.

It really depends on the size of the residential section and the size and type of homes proposed by the developer. As a guide, on a 1000m2 section you could fit around five two-storey attached houses – two duplexes and three attached terrace houses. If you were to build low-rise apartments (up to three storeys high) in one building then you may be able to get more houses on a 1000m2 site.

It can happen in the proposed new Medium Density Residential Zone in Hastings and Havelock North. It can also happen in Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere General Residential Zones on sites located close to public parks, commercial centres and public transport routes. 

Creating quality living environments that enrich our wellbeing is important. The Hastings Residential Intensification Design Guide is a key tool in promoting quality housing developments.

Wellbeing wheel

The guide includes residential design principles and key design elements that assist in ensuring good design outcomes are achieved. These design principles are based on hauora (wellbeing) and what is important for people living in or next to medium density housing developments.

Yes Council will be investigating additional areas that might be suitable for medium and high density housing. These areas would need to be located close to public transport links, commercial centres, public parks, places of work and schools.

Potentially. As further areas are identified for medium density housing, Council will consult with the Ministry of Education and Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand (formerly the District Health Board) to consider the appropriate needs for the specific area.

As part of identifying these additional areas we would also speak to Council’s community facilities team, community services providers and the community in general, to ascertain what is needed in specific locations.

More housing does place more demands on Hastings’ infrastructure.  Some of our pipes have been underground for more than 100 years, so we need to make sure we are taking into account how these changes could impact our current systems. As part of our business as usual, we try to forecast renewals and upgrades of our existing infrastructure services to maintain and improve our infrastructure for the existing community, as well as providing additional capacity to meet the demands of a growing and thriving city.

More housing means more people needing access to drinking water, wastewater and storm water networks, as well as roads. We know that there are current capacity issues in some areas, so that is why every development will need to gain a certificate from Council’s infrastructure asset management team to ensure the proposed development can be serviced for water supply, wastewater and storm water.

It means that before you start designing your development, check in with Council’s infrastructure asset management and growth team to see whether there are any infrastructure constraints on your site and/or whether there is existing capacity available to service additional housing on your site. You will need to lodge your certificate as part of your resource consent application. We will be preparing a fact sheet on how to gain an infrastructure certificate for your proposed development prior to publicly notifying the plan change.

The Government has required councils to remove all car parking requirements from District Plans. This means developers do not need to provide car parking for houses within the section/property. However, in reality many still do provide car parks as cars are still the primary mode of transport and off-street parking is desired by house buyers. The changes proposed to the District Plan encourage combining vehicle access so that on-street parking is not reduced. This is a matter that is considered when development proposals are submitted to Council for approval.

No, not in the Medium Density Residential Zone if their proposal complies with the new rules in the District Plan.

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