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Medium density housing in the spotlight as housing demand grows

medium density design guide

Meeting the current and future demand for housing in Hastings is a priority for Hastings District Council, which recently completed a review of its Medium Density Housing strategy.

The strategy seeks to protect the district’s versatile soils by providing for thousands more homes needed in coming years within existing urban areas.

Since the strategy was adopted in 2014, housing demand has increased significantly and Central Government expectations on responding to this growth have changed.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said a significant amount of work has been undertaken over the years, informed by engagement with housing providers and the development community.

“We can’t keep expanding onto the plains – If we are serious about protecting our soils, we need to treat this with urgency. In Hastings, 7000 new houses are needed over next 10 years, at least 2500 of those in more intensive developments.

“We need to do something different to what’s been done in the past – to do a better job of  intensifying greenfields as well as inner city areas, being more efficient with how we use available land, but in a way that is appropriate for the size, scale and character of the surrounding community.

“While protecting our productive land, we need to have more efficient infrastructure, creating housing with easy walking and cycling access and access to public transport – reduction in greenhouse gases is becoming increasingly important at the same time as providing diverse housing choices.”

Much has been achieved in line with the 2014 strategy, including a Plan Change in 2015 to bring forward preferred areas for medium density development through the City Living Zone and Comprehensive Residential Development, as well as planning work towards resolving infrastructure constraints and reducing development contributions on medium density developments. 

A Residential Intensification Design Guide was produced in 2020 to support increased residential development, showcasing best-practice design to help property developers, builders and architects achieve high quality, sustainable compact housing.

The review has identified further work that needs to be undertaken including finding additional areas where housing can be intensified that have easy access to open public spaces, further investigation and enablement of infrastructure capacity, and continuing with initiatives to partner with the development sector on housing projects.

It also recommends changes to the District Plan in the short-term to make medium density development easier in already identified areas. Council has adopted the review and started implementing the recommendations.

Mrs Hazlehurst said that while the concept of more compact housing was new to Hastings, it was an approach being taken in other parts of the country and the world.

“Our growth and scale is now such that we have to change how we view our homes, we need good housing that is affordable and diverse – it’s a change in thinking to our properties having smaller gardens, but good access to parks and active transport.

“Central government sees good housing as underpinning all well-beings, and the further intensification it’s requiring across the country will be a big step from what had been projected. We are taking the opportunity here in Hastings to address this with a measured, strategic approach so we get the best outcomes for the whole community that are appropriate to our context.”

The review comes ahead of a Soils Symposium being held this Friday, July 15, where local iwi, soil scientists, environmental planners and producers will be discussing how to achieve the right balance between the district’s ongoing development requirements and the need to protect the fertile growing soils.

Go to www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/hastings/projects/homes-for-our-people/ to read the Medium Density Housing Strategy review.

11 July 2022

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