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Design advice for your next housing project

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Heretaunga ara-rau                      
Heretaunga haukū-nui                 
Heretaunga hāro-o-te-kāhu       
Heretaunga takoto noa                
Tihei Heretaunga!

Local proverb
Heretaunga (Hastings) of a myriad pathways (diversity)
Heretaunga of its life-giving waters (fertility)
Heretaunga whose true beauty can be seen through the hawk’s eyes
Heretaunga that lies here for before us to enjoy and care for
Heretaunga we salute!

Nau mai, haere mai!

Welcome to the Residential Intensification Design Guide, providing insights, resources and examples of good design practice for compact housing typologies that encourage two storey buildings.

VIEW THE Hastings Residential Intensification Design Guide HERE

Hastings city is surrounded by highly productive land which forms the backbone of our food producing economy. Fitting more houses into existing neighbourhoods and the city centre is key to meeting the high demand for housing, without expanding onto our rich and fertile land. This is otherwise known as residential intensification – a core goal of the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy 2017.

Unit 5 developmentTo achieve this goal, Hastings District Council has developed this guide to offer a practical tool that provides ideas and solutions to common issues with development on smaller sites. The guide’s purpose is to:

  • make it simple and easy for developers, builders and landowners to understand the key design elements that translate into good design outcomes;
  • make it simple and easy to understand and meet district plan requirements, particularly assessment criteria;
  • increase knowledge and capability within Council to assess and evaluate the design quality of developments.

The design guide is based on the principle of hauora (‘wellbeing’), ensuring that housing will meet the social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of communities.

Why use the design guide in your property development journey?

  1. Do it once and do it right: The guide provides useful ideas and solutions to common design and development challenges early on in your process – and getting it right the first time helps prevent you having to redo your work. This saves both time and costs.
  2. Have confidence you’ve met criteria: The guide’s key design elements are directly linked to achieving Hastings District Plan assessment criteria, and properties developed with these in mind are more likely to have a smoother and faster resource consent process.
  3. Council-friendly concepts: It demonstrates the high quality, high amenity outcomes Council is seeking for more intensive housing types, so development concepts created using the guide are more likely to be favourable to us here at Council.
  4. Protection of our plains: Increasing housing supply within our existing urban areas reduces the need to accommodate housing demand by rezoning rural land for housing. This protects our high value land for food production.
  5. More affordable housing: Intensification through the redevelopment of existing residential areas will help create a healthier supply-demand balance and generate more affordability in the housing market.


Building more houses in existing neighbourhoods to meet housing demand rather than rezoning rural areas is a key element of Hastings District Council’s Medium Density Strategy. The Residential Intensification Design Guide provides ideas and tips to help property developers, builders and architects achieve high quality, sustainable housing that also achieves this goal.

The guide sits alongside the Hastings District Plan and provides references to it, to help you design housing that meets the plan’s criteria. Please note, the District Plan overrides the guide where there is doubt as to a criteria.

Checklists, labelled images and examples are featured throughout the guide to make your development journey easy.

Our highly productive Heretaunga Plains surrounding Hastings city form the backbone of our food producing economy. Housing demand is constant and growing. Fitting more houses into existing neighbourhoods helps avoid housing spread onto our food producing land. It means we can meet demand while protecting our valuable land. This is otherwise known as residential intensification.

Design guide chartSix pillars of design

The guide is based on six design principles based on the concept of hauora (wellbeing) – and what is considered important for people living in or next to compact housing developments in Hastings. Te Aranga and Toi-Tū principles are interwoven into these six pillars, as pictured. These principles are featured throughout the guide in relation to each recommendation.  See page six of the design guide for descriptions of these principles.

Key design elements

The guide focusses on the following design elements:

  • Housing types, sizes and adaptability
  • Entrances detailing and colour
  • Building height, visual dominance and sunlight
  • Connections to open space
  • Landscape design
  • Private and safe environments
  • Outdoor living space
  • Parking and manoeuvring
  • Waste and service areas
  • Site coverage and low impact design
  • Building materials and environmental sustainability.

Residential intensification types

The following housing models are considered most appropriate for residential intensification:

  • Infill – supplementary dwelling (80m2)
  • Infill – subdivision (plus one or two)
  • Comprehensive residential development (three or more dwellings)
  • Greenfield comprehensive residential development
  • Comprehensive residential development in special character areas
  • Inner city housing
  • Suburban shopping centres – mixed use
  • Cohousing and retirement villages.


Building houses and building community

Our vision is to have well designed and sustainable housing developments that through their design and layout, feel homely, build a sense of community, use land efficiently and protect our productive land.

We want to encourage housing providers to marry good design with a variety of residential intensification types to create high quality, high amenity housing options at a range of price points.

The Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy promotes fitting more houses into existing neighbourhoods rather than rezoning rural land to meet housing demand. Jointly adopted by Hastings District, Hawke’s Bay Regional and Napier City councils, this Strategy recognises our Heretaunga Plains’ natural land and water resources are finite and under increasing pressure. We need to manage them well to ensure they are here for us today and in future.

Hastings District Council has adopted the Medium Density Strategy to achieve this.

If you can, it is worthwhile talking “with” the people who you are building for, not “for” the people from the beginning and throughout your project. This way you are more likely will meet the needs of the occupiers.

Adding certain features to your house will help make enable people with disabilities, or those with injuries or young children to move around freely and unimpeded. This means it will be more accessible to a wider range of users, and more marketable.

On top of that, giving thought to these features when designing or building a property leads to other flow-on benefits:

  1. Home owners will be able to move around their homes with ease if they suffer short term injuries
  2. People will be less likely to have to move homes due to ageing or a change in circumstances.

 Features that improve the property’s accessibility include:

 Outdoor (these may start from the car parking spaces or street access)

  • Texture changes on paths and walkways
  • Contrasting colours
  • Slopes in footpaths at crossings
  • Clear signposting in prominent places.


  • Wide doors and hallways (making it easier to move between spaces)
  • Having all facilities and a bedroom on ground floor, or having single floored buildings
  • Handrails on the both sides of stairs and in bathrooms.

 Think ahead during design and construction

 Considering these features at the start of design and development will help ensure the house can be adapted in future:

  • Additional framing: Having additional framing behind linings means you can install additional grab-rails or fold-away seats in future if need-be
  • Sloped bathroom floors: Bathroom floors sloped towards the waste avoids the need for shower trays, and improves liveability
  • Reachability of switches, appliances, etc.: Ensure electrical switches, outlets and kitchen appliances are placed at heights that are reachable from a wheelchair but don’t require someone to bend or kneel from a standing position
  • Space (e.g. in kitchens, bathrooms): Design the kitchen layout with appropriate space between benches, islands, fixtures or walls
  • Various kitchen bench heights: Have benches at various heights where possible. (This is also good for grandchildren).

Standards New Zealand’s Design for Access and Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities provides excellent examples of how buildings can be made more accessible.

A wide range of options are available to choose from when selecting materials for the outside walls and roofs. When considering cladding, it’s important to give the frequency and ease of maintenance some thought. Certain cladding types are not suitable for certain building types; and different cladding types vary in their performance and maintenance requirements.

The Building Code requires cladding (for roof and walls) to last no less than 15 years, assuming people carry out the necessary maintenance.

More complex building shapes require more maintenance than simple building shapes. Complex junctions and shapes also increase the number of intervals in the roof or walls that need to be maintained.

We suggest designers try to avoid using complex shapes and junctions that could lead to moisture ingress.




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