Questions & answers

In this section, there are a series of common questions and answers regarding the different aspects of the Planning for Growth project.

For any further questions send us an email at planningforgrowth@wcc.govt.nz


Q&A's | Planning for Growth Live Event 2020


Q&A's | Draft Spatial Plan 2020

What are the impacts on Planning for Growth and Our City Tomorrow in light of the recent COVID-19 global pandemic?

We can’t ignore the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. We have an opportunity to think about the new opportunities and new ways we can better plan for the future of our city in a post-COVID-19 world.

From the recently completed ‘City Recovery Insights’ Survey (June 2020), we know there are likely to be some short term changes to how we live and work, as the majority of the respondents are more likely to support local, work  from home, or shop online over the next year.

There will be some short term changes to the rate of the city’s economic and population growth due to the impact of Covid-19 on immigration and fewer employment opportunities. However, the medium to long term outlook remains positive and the medium to long term growth projections remain relevant.

It is important that the city is prepared for this growth and takes the opportunity to learn from our own local experiences of this global event. This includes, focussing more on our local communities and how we can increase social resilience, better support our local businesses, and adapt to different ways of working. Opportunities have arisen for our city to be even more innovative and increase our sense of community. Investing in our infrastructure, open spaces, and community facilities will enable these opportunities to be realised in the long term, and Our City Tomorrow is the first step in planning for this investment.

What is the difference between density and crowding? And why does this matter?

In order to plan for the city’s future and accommodate population growth and ensure Wellington will remain compact, resilient, vibrant and prosperous, inclusive and connected, and greener, we must ultimately look at planning for development within our current urban footprint.

To do this, we need to increase density in appropriate locations across the city.  Density is not the same thing as ‘crowding’ and offers many benefits. We need to ensure density is done well so that people still have space to live, work, and play with easy access to a variety of key local services and amenities. It is also a key influence on Wellington’s commitment to being a zero carbon capital.

As we look towards the future of our city, density will continue to be an important factor that will allow us to focus on investing in our local communities, infrastructure, and open spaces to ensure we are resilient, both socially and physically.

To find out more about density, crowding and planning for our future Cities after COVID-19, check out these articles:

What is a Spatial Plan?

A spatial plan is essentially a ‘blueprint’ for the City.

A spatial plan is essentially a ‘blueprint’ for the city. It is a key strategy for the city, providing certainty about where and how we will grow, and identifying what we will protect along the way. It considers a range of topics relating to the city’s growth including: land use, transport, three waters infrastructure, climate change, natural hazards, heritage, and natural and open space values.

Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City will feed into the Council’s Long Term Plan process, which will help determine what funding and key assets will be needed to provide for growth, such as transport and our three waters (wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water) infrastructure. The Spatial Plan will provide the strategic direction needed for the District Plan review which is the City’s rule book for development. It will also influence other Council strategies and policies such as our Infrastructure Plans, Development Contributions Policy, Community Facilities Policy, Our Capital Spaces, and many more.

We have created a spatial plan that is interactive and visual in an effort to make it engaging and easy to understand for all communities.

We would love to hear your feedback about how you think the goals and directions for growth in Wellington have been reflected in this draft plan for Our City Tomorrow.

Why should we have a Spatial Plan - Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City?

With the projected population growth of 50,000-80,000 more people over the next 30 years we need a coordinated plan. Our City Tomorrow provides an opportunity to address the series of influences and key challenges that Wellington is facing over the next 30 years, such as climate change, transport, natural hazards to name a few.  Our City Tomorrow aims to build on and address these influences and proposes how the city might grow and develop in the future. It offers the chance to develop a coordinated plan that can respond and adapt to change and provide certainty for future development.

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS-UDC) 2016 and its replacement, the National Policy Statement for Urban Development (NPS-UD) 2020, also requires all local councils to plan for projected population growth and provide enough capacity in the planning settings for housing and business needs. Our City Tomorrow is part of the City’s response to these requirements.

Not only does Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City will help us to align with this national direction it also helps guide the Council’s long term planning and investment decisions. Our City Tomorrow will be a key input into the next 10 Year Plan, ensuring that the goals and actions outlined in the spatial plan are realised, and growth is supported by sufficient infrastructure, parks, community facilities and other key services.

For more information on the NPS-UD 2020 see the Q&A below - "What is the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and how does it relate to the Draft Spatial Plan?"

What is the difference between a Spatial Plan and a District Plan?

A spatial plan is a non-statutory 30 year strategy that sets out where and how we will grow, and guides Council’s decision-making around future investment and asset management planning.

A District Plan is a statutory requirement under the Resource Management Act, 1991(RMA), that must give effect to national direction and regional planning documents. It sets the objectives, policies, and rules for land use and subdivision on private property. The District Plan has a 10-15 year review timeframe.

In short, a spatial plan is a ‘blueprint’, a strategy outlining the ‘where’ and the ‘how’ we will grow. A District Plan is the ‘rulebook’ for land development that turns the strategy into action and aims to implement the goals and directions outlined in the spatial plan.

What is a ‘housing type’?

In the inner and outer suburbs, different levels of intensification are provided through five different housing density types. These housing density types have been applied based on the local context and the opportunities for further growth that exist in the area (e.g. proximity to the nearest centre, public transport, parks etc). Overall Our City Tomorrow encourages diversity of housing style, type and scale, in addition to high quality housing to ensure density is done well.

These five housing density types are:

In the central city High Density housing is considered to be at least 10 storeys.

See visuals and examples of what these housing types could look like

See where these housing types are proposed – View Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City

What does this mean for my suburb?

The proposed changes for growth in Our City Tomorrow are distributed across the city. The proposed growth pattern for the city directs growth in and around the following areas:

  • Central city – Wellington Central, Te Aro, Pipitea
  • Inner suburbs – Aro Valley, Thorndon, Mt Cook, Newtown, Berhampore, Mt Victoria
  • Outer suburbs – Tawa, Churton Park, Johnsonville, Newlands, Khandallah, Ngaio, Crofton Downs, Karori, Kelburn, Brooklyn, Island Bay, Hataitai, Kilbirnie, Lyall Bay, and Miramar

In these areas a range of medium to high density housing is proposed in areas that are within walking distance of public transport, within or adjacent to centres and high frequency public transport, as well as community amenities.

To see what is proposed in your suburb view the draft spatial plan here.

To find your suburb use the navigation tabs for ‘central city’, ‘inner suburbs; and ‘outer suburbs’. Select and scroll through the section that corresponds to where your suburb is located, to find out what specifically is proposed.

Additionally, you can view the Draft Spatial Plan Summary Document to see what is happening in your suburb and across the city.

I don’t see my suburb listed in Our City Tomorrow; does that mean no changes are proposed?

Our City Tomorrow takes a city-wide approach in which growth has been directed to areas that are most suitable for intensification based on a range of considerations, such as; proximity to public transport and centres, community services and open space, and cost of development in hazard risk areas. Ultimately, the city as a whole will be impacted in some form.

If your suburb is not specifically mentioned, no significant changes to density are proposed however we will be reviewing infill development rules as part of the District Plan review to provide more efficient use of existing land and to provide more housing choice.

Find out what changes are proposed across the city

Will this impact what I can develop on my property?

Once Our City Tomorrow is finalised and approved, it will provide the direction for the review of the Wellington City District Plan. As part of the District Plan Review we will be looking at changing many of the current objectives, policies, and rules for land use and subdivision on private property based on the direction in Our City Tomorrow. This will likely mean changes to the rules around how you can develop your property e.g. how high you can build how many houses on a site etc. That’s why it is important that you share your views now on what is proposed in the Spatial Plan and look out for the upcoming District Plan review process that will follow.

The existing District Plan rules will continue to apply until decisions are made on the new District Plan, which is likely to be late 2022/early 2023. For some aspects of the District Plan, the new rules may not come into effect until much later if they are subject to Environment Court Appeals.

Get involved now and tell us your view on Our City Tomorrow (Draft Spatial Plan)

Sign up to our email newsletter for updates on the Planning for Growth and the District Plan Review

How do I submit my feedback?

We encourage you to get involved and have your say by submitting your feedback on Our City Tomorrow: Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City. To submit your feedback, please use our online form which can be accessed here:

Our online form is broken up into three sections and provides the opportunity at the end of the form to attach a document to your submission. Additionally you may submit your feedback as an individual or on behalf of an organisation.

If you encounter issues with this form let us know by emailing planningforgrowth@wcc.govt.nz.

How does Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City, fit into other council plans and strategies?

Our City Tomorrow: Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City is part of the wider Planning for Growth project and will provide the direction needed for the review of the Wellington City District Plan.

Planning for Growth builds on the goals that emerged from the engagement we undertook in 2017 called Our City Tomorrow and is a key Council 10-Year Plan initiative.

Our City Tomorrow: Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City is also part of a wider inter-connected framework of strategies, policies, plans, and programmes.  These strategies and policies each have a role in the future of our city and are important for realising many of the goals and directions outlined in Our City Tomorrow. In fact, some of these policies will be reviewed to reflect the final Spatial Plan, and this is indicated in the Action Plan section of the Draft Spatial Plan.

Some of the key Council initiatives that have informed and will inform the direction proposed in Our City Tomorrow are:

Other national and regional initiatives have also helped inform Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City. These are:

How will Our City Tomorrow be accomplished?

Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City proposes a new city-wide growth pattern that will be accomplished as outlined in the Action Plan. The Action Plan outlines the necessary responsibilities of the Council, in addition to other organisations and the private sector, to implement the goals and directions provided in Our City Tomorrow. The actions identified will be made possible through a combination of following:

What is Backyard Tāonga?

Backyard Tāonga are the important natural landscapes, features, or areas of land with special wildlife, plants, or trees that are native and are important to the biodiversity of our city. Our City Tomorrow proposes to introduce new rules in the District Plan to identify and protect these areas both on public land and on private property.

Over the last few months we have been working with land owners who have tāonga on their property to hear their views on how to best protect these special places without getting in the way of daily use and maintenance on their properties. This work will continue as we gear up for the District Plan Review.

Find out more about Backyard Tāonga

Read about what Our City Tomorrow proposes for our natural and open spaces

How can we plan for growth with Wellington’s known natural hazard risks?

It’s well known that Wellington is subject to a number of natural hazard risks. Consequently it is crucial that we carefully consider and address these risks when we develop to build with resilience in mind, both in regards to physical resilience and social resilience.

We need to ensure our communities are connected and well supported, in addition to looking at how we can minimise the risk through modern building design and technology and prioritise investment in our infrastructure.

This essentially means we must assess our ability to live comfortably with risk, and get clear about what our options are. It doesn’t necessarily mean all development should cease, more so it means we must look at where we can minimise the risk through modern building design. It also means identifying where the cost of development will be higher or where alternative locations for new development need to be found.

In developing Our City Tomorrow, areas of significant risk were considered in terms of how easily we can ‘build our way out of’ those risks. In some cases, this means that further intensification of an area is signalled as being discouraged, while in others there remains potential to develop in an area so long as development is managed carefully and the right design and construction techniques are utilised. As part of the District Plan review, we will be undertaking finer grained analysis of natural hazards across the City to determine what rules are needed to manage land use and development in areas of risk.

What about planning for business and employment areas in the city? Does Our City Tomorrow consider this?

Our City Tomorrow, goes beyond planning for housing and considers how we plan for our business areas and continue to support economic growth and development. We have seen employment rise in the city over recent years and while we know the impacts from COVID-19 are likely to mean some short term changes, in the medium and long term we know this trend will still continue.

As we continue to grow, it is important that we support the economic development of both the Central City and our suburban centres by ensuring there are sufficient opportunities for businesses to establish and thrive. This will also help generate increased employment opportunities close to where people live.

As the economic hub of the region, there will be a need to ensure that the city is in a position to satisfy continued demand for commercial and business land and floor space. This means we not only need to retain our commercial zoned land but also ensure our District Plan rules allow for efficient use of that land.

One of the five goals as outlined in Our City Tomorrow, is for Wellington to be Vibrant and Prosperous and to “build on its reputation as an economic hub and creative centre of excellence by welcoming and support innovation and investing strategically to maintain our thriving economy.”

Our City Tomorrow provides the direction to:

  • Support creativity, innovation, and technology in urban development and the economy.
  • Attractive, vibrant public spaces that incentivise new development.
  • Suburban centres are revitalised to support their viability and stimulate adjoin residential growth and development.
  • Increased opportunities to stimulate further employment and business growth and development in the city are available.

Find out more and view our business areas by reading the Overview of Our City Tomorrow

What is the process from here?

Once we receive your feedback on Our City Tomorrow: A Draft Spatial Plan for Wellington City, we will consider all submissions, make any changes necessary and prepare a final Spatial Plan for Councillors to approve.

But the opportunities to have your say don’t stop there!

With the approved final version of Our City Tomorrow and your feedback we will then move into the full review of the District Plan. We will prepare a Draft District Plan which we will share with you for feedback in early 2021. This will be a non-statutory draft District Plan which will enable the public to see how the ideas in the spatial plan translate to rules for development. Your feedback on the draft District Plan will be important for the final stage in the Planning for Growth programme, which is preparing a statutory Proposed District Plan for public notification. Again, there will be a final opportunity to provide feedback through this statutory phase of Planning for Growth which is currently scheduled for the end of 2021.

By the end of this we will have a clear picture of our city tomorrow which you have helped shape!

What is the difference between heritage protection and character protection?

Often the terms ‘heritage’ and ‘character’ are used interchangeably; however they are two different things in regards to what they protect and the rules that apply under the District Plan.

Heritage

Heritage is defined in the Resource Management Act (RMA, 1991), and is recognised as a ‘matter of national importance’ which requires the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development.

Historic heritage is identified and protected in the Wellington City District Plan through objectives, polices, and rules and includes buildings, groups of buildings, objects, places of significance to tangata whenua and Maori, as well as notable trees.

District Plan - Heritage Chapter

District Plan - Heritage List

View the Wellington City Heritage Inventory

Character

Character on the other hand is not bound by any legislative requirements under the RMA, and may cover a broader range of considerations beyond heritage. In the current District Plan, a key objective is: “to maintain and enhance the physical character of Wellington and in particular identified areas of special streetscape or townscape character”.

Character areas are aimed at protecting distinctive qualities such as streetscape amenity and the overall historical architectural character of the neighbourhood.

Character is defined as concentrations of similar and consistent characteristics, that when viewed as a whole contribute to the local identity of an area’s overall ‘sense of place’. This concentration of character is often comprised of elements relating to streetscape characteristics (i.e. topography, street patterns, open space, street trees, land use, lot size, garage type and location) as well as site specific built form (i.e. building age, architectural style, building type and materials, building siting and boundary setbacks, building height and shape, and site coverage).

Many of the inner suburbs are recognised for their character in which rules in the District Plan protect the demolition and alteration of pre-1930 character buildings. See the following Q&A ‘What are the pre-1930 character Demolition Controls?’ for more information.

District Plan - Residential Areas Chapter

Pre-1930 Character Area Review 2019 Story Map

Our City Tomorrow (Draft Spatial Plan) proposes to:

  • Continue to protect existing heritage areas, buildings and trees within these suburbs, along with identifying and investigating further areas, buildings and trees that may warrant protection, and
  • Refine our approach to protecting pre-1930’s character in the inner suburbs, by recognising the special characteristics of the broader suburb and enabling opportunities for sensitive, denser development in these areas.

View full details of what is proposed in the character areas

What are the pre-1930 character demolition controls?

The inner suburbs of Mt Victoria, Thorndon, Aro Valley, Holloway Road/The Terrace, Mt Cook, Newtown and Berhampore are recognised for their unique ‘character’. This character is a result of a combination of things such as topography, site sizes, architectural styles, building ages, and the scale of buildings.

These areas have a concentration of buildings constructed prior to 1930. Currently rules in the District Plan control the demolition and alteration of these buildings in order to maintain this distinctive character. Redevelopment of these sites is therefore generally discouraged.

To view the current rules (pre-1930 character demolition controls) see the Residential Area Chapter (Chapter 5, Rule 5.3.6) of the District Plan.

See the Q&A above ‘What is the difference between heritage protection and character protection’ for more information.

View map of the current character areas

What does mixed use mean?

Mixed use is a term used to describe when a development, building, or site supports a mixture of activities and functions. Typicallly these developments include two or more uses, such as a building with commercial businesses or retail on the ground floor with residential uses above.

Mixed use developments are beneficial for not only providing increased density, but can also contribute to keeping things compact as it minimises distances between residential and commercial uses and enables more people to have walkable access to a variety of services. This type of development also contributes to vibrancy in town and city centres.

Mixed use developments are already provided for in under the District Plan in the existing suburban centres. Our City Tomorrow (Draft Spatial Plan) aims to enhance this by directing growth to these areas, such as Johnsonville, Kilbirnie, Newtown, Mt Cook, and many others.

How can we plan for more growth when there are known issues with our current infrastructure?

When planning for our future city, it is essential that we consider the impact of growth on the provision of infrastructure, particularly our three waters infrastructure (water, stormwater, and wastewater).

We know there are issues with our existing water infrastructure with some areas at or near capacity. Growth provides an opportunity to bring our current infrastructure up to modern standards, increase capacity, and incorporate environmentally sustainable methods for managing stormwater runoff, such as water sensitive design and greening our city; it also can act as a catalyst to encourage the investment needed to ensure the long term resilience of our three waters infrastructure. The draft spatial plan is the first step in developing a coordinated plan to inform investment decisions in this critical infrastructure. This will feed into the 2021/31 Long Term Plan (LtP) process. The LtP sets out what projects will occur over the next 10 years and the level of funding required.

This is one of the key influences that will impact our ability to successfully provide for future growth and maintain a high quality of life for all of Wellington.

Three Waters Assessments

Wellington Water Three Waters Assessment - Addendum Report (2020)

Wellington Water Three Waters Assessment (2019)

What is the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and how does it relate to the Draft Spatial Plan?

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (NPS-UD) replaces the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016 (NPS-UDC). The NPS-UD takes effect on 20 August 2020.

This national policy statement requires Councils to provide sufficient development capacity to meet projected growth requirements in their area over the short (3 years), medium (10 years), and long term (30 years).

Under the NPS-UD we are required to zone sufficient land to provide for growth, and to also test the economic feasibility of development under the zoning framework and ensure there is sufficient infrastructure (existing or planned) to service that development capacity.

The NPS-UD includes a requirement that Councils prepare a Future Development Strategy (FDS) that shows how and where they will provide for future development.

It also outlines certain policy directions that relate to ‘well-functioning urban environments’, intensification and density, amenity, car parking, and supporting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to help combat climate change. Under these policies the Council is required to:

  • Amend the District Plan to enable more people to live in, and businesses and community services to locate in: areas near centres and areas with employment opportunities, areas that are well serviced by public transport (existing and future), and areas where there is high demand for housing and business land.
  • Allow building heights of at least 6 storeys within walkable catchments to the city centre and metropolitan centres as well as existing and planned rapid transit stops.  We are proposing a 10 minute walking catchment for the city centre and the centres of Johnsonville and Tawa, and a 5 minute walking catchment around the train stations along the Kapiti and Johnsonville Lines. This distinction reflects that these large centres provide a wider range of services and are areas with good access to the things people want and need, such as jobs and community services, and good public transport services.
  • Remove minimum car parking requirements (other than accessible car parks)
  • Ensure urban environments support a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and are resilient

There are exceptions or limitations to these policy approaches in order to consider other matters such as heritage, natural hazards, significant infrastructure, other special characteristics like streetscape character and amenity, etc.

The draft spatial plan for Wellington city (Our City Tomorrow) is consistent with the direction set out in the NPS-UD to develop a long term strategic plan of action in response to future growth pressures. This will be given effect to through the District Plan Review process.

Our City Tomorrow also proposes key policy directions that align with the NPD-UD, such as:

  • No minimum parking requirements
  • Minimum of 6 storey building heights within walkable catchments to the city centre and metropolitan centres as well as existing and planned mass rapid transport stops
  • Ensuring Wellington is a compact city by building within the existing urban form  and enabling more people to live in areas that are located near centres and areas with employment opportunities, areas that are well serviced public transport (existing and planned), and where there is high demand for housing and business land
  • Ensuring Wellington is more resilient to climate change and seismic events and that the natural and built environments are healthy and robust, and that physical and social resilience is implemented through good design
  • Ensuring Wellington is a greener city, and that new development supports the city’s goals of being a ‘zero carbon capital’ by 2050. In addition to protecting and enhancing the natural environment by integrating it with the urban environment

We have identified specific hazard issues for Thorndon, Kilbirnie and Lyall Bay that we consider to be relevant ‘qualifying matters’ that may mean the 6-storey minimum building height required by the NPS-UD is not appropriate across all of these areas. Council needs to do further work to fully understand the implications of these hazards on the level of risk for development in these areas. This will inform future decisions about what level of intensification is appropriate.

In the inner suburbs, we have identified ‘pre-1930’s sub-areas’ which we consider to be additional ‘qualifying matter’ under the NPS-UD where enabling at least 6-storey buildings as directed, may not be appropriate. These areas exhibit a cohesive streetscape character and a lower maximum height will better reflect the current situation and help protect these intact special character values. We also consider that heights in areas adjacent to the pre-1930’s sub-areas need to be lower than 6-storeys directed, in order to buffer the nearby cohesive character.  We consider lower heights in these adjacent areas are an additional ‘qualifying matter’.

Learn more about the NPS-UD 2020

Read this Article: ‘Helping our cities grow up and out’ (21 August 2019)

How does Planning for Growth and Our City Tomorrow relate to the regional picture?

In parallel with Our City Tomorrow, work is also underway to develop a Wellington Regional Growth Framework - a partnership between WCC, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD), NZTA, Iwi, all territorial authorities in the Region, and Horowhenua District Council.

Our City Tomorrow is a key input into the Wellington Regional Growth Framework which takes a regional view of issues such as:

  • housing capacity and affordability,
  • transport capacity and connectivity;
  • protecting the natural environment;
  • developing a low carbon future;
  • improved access to jobs and services;
  • enabling sustainable and resilient development and infrastructure;
  • increased climate resilience; and
  • increased employment opportunities.

The Framework is essentially a spatial plan for the region that sets out a long-term vision for how the region will grow. It provides an integrated approach for how to maximise the best outcomes for the region in response to key urban development challenges and opportunities.

A draft of the Wellington Regional Growth Framework will be consulted on in early/mid 2021.

Visit the Wellington Regional Growth Framework Website to learn more

How were the proposed medium density (growth/intensification areas) identified?

In 2018-2019 as part of the development of the growth scenarios, a range of criteria was looked at in order to determine where in the outer suburbs growth could be proposed. The Centres Hierarchy in particular (as outlined in the District Plan and the Centres Policy was used as a starting point to identify potential growth areas. Given their current role and function, many of the Sub-Regional, Town and District Centres noted in the Centres Hierarchy were considered to provide the greatest opportunities for intensification as they are known to have a number of live and/or work opportunities already and are well served by public transport.

Neighbourhood centres were not considered with the exception of Linden, Hataitai, Lyall Bay, and Kelburn.

Further information about how the scenarios were developed can be found in the Beca Report - ‘Wellington City – Planning for Future Growth Preliminary Baseline Scenario Development’.

On the basis of the outcomes of city-wide engagement on the growth scenario in 2019, a more detailed assessment of the outer suburbs was undertaken.

This work included assessing the optimum location, extent and nature of new medium density development across the outer suburbs. This work considered existing services and amenities that could provide opportunities for medium density such as the range of activities within centres, walkability and access to public transport, access to open space, natural hazard risks, proximity to services (i.e. employment, schools, and community facilities), etc.

To ensure a consistent approach in applying the housing typologies we applied the same methodology to the inner suburbs. This provided the different medium density housing types that are best suited for each of the inner suburbs and this was considered alongside the inner residential character areas analysis work (i.e. the assessment that informed proposed changes to the current pre-1930 character areas).

Supporting Documentation:

What is proposed in regards to car parking under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD)?

Under the recently released National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) we are required to remove all minimum car parking requirements for any development, land use, or activity with the exception of still providing requirements for accessible car parks (See Subpart 8, Policy 11).

Existing objectives, policies, and rules or assessment criteria that require a minimum number of car-parks must be removed from the District Plan without going through a plan change process under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

This means that across the city the Council cannot require parking for new developments and activities once these changes have been made to the District Plan.

Councils must implement this part of the policy by February 2022 (no later than 18 month after the commencement date of the NPS-UD).

How do heights/storeys and heritage work?

When works to a scheduled heritage building or development within a heritage area are proposed, it’s not a given that the maximum height limit anticipated by the zone can be achieved. In these cases the protection of heritage values become an additional determinant of acceptable height, which may mean the maximum height that can be achieved is lower than the stated maximum height limit. This means that the resulting development may be lower than that indicated in the Draft Spatial Plan. Works to scheduled heritage buildings and development proposals for new buildings in heritage areas are always assessed on a case by case basis through a resource consent process.

How were the proposed character sub-areas identified?
  1. To identify the proposed character area sub-areas, the Pre-1930 Character Area Review was used as a starting point. In this review ‘Indicative Character Contribution Sub-Areas’1 were identified following assessment of each property by walking each street. This  highlighted where there were concentrations of primary and contributory sites (see Appendix 4 of the report). This demonstrated where ‘pockets’ of consistently intact streetscape character remained and where the pre-1930 character demolition controls should be retained.
  2. These ‘Indicative Character Contribution Sub-Areas’ were then compared to the current sub-areas provided in the District Plan Design Guides2. By comparing these two areas, it helped to identify where these areas may or may not overlap. Where the Design Guide sub-areas covered the majority of the broader character area, the ‘Indicative Character Contribution Sub-Areas’ were used as a starting boundary to determine the new sub-areas or proposed sub-areas for where the pre-1930 character demolition controls should be retained.
  3. A ‘streetscape’ approach was then used to draft new boundaries for where the pre-1930 character demolition controls would continue to apply. The criteria for these boundaries were:
    1. Is character substantially intact and on both sides of the street?
    2. Is there noticeable character in these areas?
  4. Where there were overlaps between the Design Guide sub-areas and the ‘Indicative Character Contribution Sub-Areas’ and there were noticeable concentrations of primary or contributory character along intact streetscapes, proposed sub-areas for where the pre-1930 character demolition controls should be retained were identified.
  5. Areas that did not meet the criteria of concentrations of character along both sides of the street (i.e. streetscape)3 or lacked noticeable concentrations of primary and/or contributory sites were removed, and identified as areas where pre-1930 character demolition controls should be removed.
  6. Final sub-area boundaries were then identified and ground-truthed through further site visits.

See the Q&A's above ‘What is the difference between heritage protection and character protection’ and 'What are the pre-1930 character Demolition Controls?’ for more information.

View full details of what is proposed in the character areas

A big part of our engagement on the Draft Spatial Plan is to get feedback on these proposed character sub-areas to see if the community thinks they are correct, or if they should be altered.

Tell us what you think and make a submission


[1] The Pre-1930 Character Area Review identified ‘sub-areas’ noted as Indicative Character Contribution Sub-Areas’ where there are concentrations of sites that are categorised as  primary and/or contributory to overall character. It should be noted, the Assessment did not provide a recommendation as to how these areas should be managed through the District Plan provisions.

[2] Within the Design Guides for the Inner Residential Areas there are specified ‘sub-areas’ where particular consideration is to be given to the specific characteristics of the area.

[3] The term streetscape includes both sides of the street as opposed to just one side of the street. The District Plan defines “streetscape” as being “the collective image of buildings and their relationship to each other and to the street (including, but not limited to rights of way, pedestrian routes etc.).” Therefore, streets that exemplified contributing character collectively on both sides of the street were viewed as contributing to the streetscape and the overall streetscape character.

Q&A's | Growth Scenarios 2019

How do we build earthquake safe buildings?


We can never guarantee earthquake safety. But we can better manage the risk through engineering features like base isolation. Most new buildings in Wellington now incorporate this kind of resilience, for example the PWC building, Children’s Hospital, and we are about to see the first base isolated apartment block.

Do you think growth in the CBD is sustainable given rising sea levels, water issues, and earthquake risk?

Properly managed, there is no reason that growth in central Wellington cannot be sustainable. But this does mean changing how we travel and how we consume energy in our buildings. This change needs to at least commence over the next decade. The biggest change is probably going to be a reduction in our reliance on the private motor vehicle. We also have some tough choices to make around rising sea levels, water conservation and heritage/character areas. We need to have an honest public debate about these things, about acceptable levels of risk, and the trade-offs we are prepared to make.

Where did the 50K to 80K projected growth number come from?

The 50,000 projection is a medium population growth projection and comes from Forecast.id. The 80,000 projection is a high population projection and comes from Statistics New Zealand.

Is there a point where we say enough is enough – no more growth?

Councils have a statutory requirement to provide for growth under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity. We need a coordinated plan for this growth. Without this, housing will become more unaffordable as demand outstrips supply, and travel times and congestion will increase (as people are forced to live further from where they work). So it is important that we have a coordinated plan for growth that ensures the city remains liveable.

Forecasts and projections are for Wellington to keep growing. The intention of this project is to ensure the growth that we do get is managed well.

With more people, will my rates go down?

Not necessarily – where existing infrastructure and facilities can be used by new residents and no new investment is required then this will not necessarily lead to increased costs to ratepayers. Where new infrastructure and facilities are required (eg for greenfield development) then this could add to the overall costs, however it will be spread across a greater number of ratepayers.

How do we protect our green space?


The Outer Greenbelt and Inner Town Belt provide a solid foundation for the city’s natural environment and help to maintain our compact urban form. We have heard from the recent consultation on the Draft Outer Green Belt Management Plan that the community places a high value on this area.

If greenfield development is supported and taken forward into the Spatial Plan we will need to plan these new suburbs carefully to ensure these values continue to be protected.

Where does the question of more jobs come into the equation? Where will people work and what will they do?

The scenarios are focused on residential growth as this is likely to be the most significant change for the city.

There will be continued demand for commercial and business land and floor space in Wellington which we must also provide for. Most of this land will be for retail, health, education and training, while the floor space requirements will be in the commercial and government sectors. Overall the city will need more than 24 hectares of land and more than 60 hectares of floor space over the next 30 years. This is the equivalent of 20 Majestic Centres. Alongside this is ensuring the economy is supported with good quality transport options as well as continued housing options for current and future residents.

Once a preferred approach for growth has been identified through engagement with the community, further work will be done to determine whether additional areas for commercial and employment activity will be needed and if so, where these areas should be.

What are the infrastructure costs of the different scenarios?

At this point we are focused on getting a direction from the community about where and how they want the city to grow, and then we can do more detailed investigations into the costs.

Regardless of the scenario there will be a need to increase existing infrastructure capacity, providing the necessary community facilities, and amenities. We have briefly outlined this in the supporting information with the scenarios and on the Key Issues page of the website.

How will you make sure new housing is good design?

We want quality housing, not just quantity. This means that we will be considering how we can improve design across all building types. The District Plan is where we can influence these outcomes and we will be looking closely at how well the current rules and design guidance are working, and what might need to change to maintain the ‘cool little capital feel’.

Will there be provisions for our aging population?

We will certainly be making sure that housing for the elderly and residential aged care is provided for in the city’s future. This is important. The reference to ‘residential’ in the scenarios covers all types of housing, and this includes how we can design new homes to be accessible for the elderly and disabled. We will be considering this as part of the District Plan review.

Can we treat character areas differently, to protect these special suburbs and streets?

The future of the pre-1930s character areas need to be considered within the wider Planning for Growth work because they cover so many properties in an area that is under pressure for future development. We are starting the conversation about these areas now as they are a key factor in what growth model we land on for the city. We will then have a clearer idea of what changes (if any) we will need to make through the District Plan review process in terms of the rules that currently protect these areas.

We have recently completed an assessment of all the properties.


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