McKenzie Rogers
Published on

New Zealand’s housing crisis is a well-worn topic of discussion and debate. In the most significant legislative move to date to address this issue, on the 19th of October 2021 the Government introduced the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill (‘the Bill’), which would amend the Resource Management Act 1991 (‘the RMA’).

This proposed law will remove resource consent requirements for certain medium density developments in main centres (which includes Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti). Wairarapa is not included in these changes at this stage.

Summary of proposed changes

Resource consent will no longer be needed on most residential sites to build up to three homes that are up to three storeys in height.  If passed into law, the Bill allows you to more extensively develop your property without requiring Council resource consent.  You will be able to build closer to the boundary with greater site coverage, with less restrictive height recession planes.  These proposed changes are summarised in the table below.


Proposed Medium Density Residential Standards

Current Wellington City District Plan – Outer Residential

Current Hutt City District Plan – General Residential

Dwellings permitted (max)

3 dwellings

2 dwellings

2 dwellings

Building height (max)




Recession Plane (max)

6m high at site boundary + 60° recession plane

2.5m  high at site boundary + 45°  recession plane

2m  high at site boundary + 45°  recession plane

Setbacks (max)

2.5m close to the front boundary

1m  close to the side boundaries

1m  close to  the rear boundary (except on corner sites)

3m or 10m less half the width of the road (whichever is the lesser) close to  the front boundary

No restrictions on the side and rear boundaries

3m close to  the front boundary

1m close to the side and rear boundaries

Building coverage (max)




Landscaped area/permeable surface (min)


No requirement


Impervious surface (max)

60% (ie 50% building coverage plus 10% for pavement)

No requirement

No requirement

Outdoor living space (min)

15m2 including an area 3m wide (Ground Floor)

8m2 including an area 1.8m wide  (Upper Floor)

50m2 including an area 4m wide

50m2 including an area 4m wide


What sites will still require a resource consent?

You will still need a resource consent to undertake developments in some areas. This is something to be mindful of when planning developments in the following areas:

  • Heritage areas
  • Natural hazard areas
  • Properties that are zoned “large lot residential”. This is the least-dense zoning, often large suburban properties.

Change to resource consent notification requirements

The Bill says that the Council must not publicly notify where they receive a resource consent application for one, two or three residential units that do not comply with the new building standards summarised in the table above. If the development is for four or more residential units that do comply with the new building standards, then there will also be less opportunity for public submission on the resource consent application.

The effect of these proposed changes is to reduce the involvement of the public in the resource consent process, which we expect will reduce consent processing times for these types of activities.

When the law is likely to apply

We expect the Bill will be passed into law given it has the support of the Government and the National Party.  Each Council will then need to implement the new standards into their plans. This has to be completed by 20 August 2022, which is the deadline for Councils to notify changes to their plans. Standards that have been implemented into the plan as they appear in the Bill will take legal effect immediately upon notification. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule so it’s always best to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure that there is nothing that disqualifies your property from the new building standards.

If this article concerns you, you may consider thinking about a covenant. Here's some more information that may be useful to you.

Please contact one of our property development experts if you have any questions in relation the Bill and what it might mean for you:

McKenzie Rogers
Senior Solicitor
04 916 6425

Rhys Williams
04 916 6452