OPINION: The medium-density residential standards, which will be introduced through the Resource Management Amendment Bill (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Issues), have garnered a vigorous response from the architectural community and urban design and housing advocates.
There is reasonably widespread support for scaling up (although there is no consensus on whether it should be targeted or allowed broadly), as well as concerns that the new standards will bring results. of poorer design.
So how do you get good design results at scale?
* Hutt Council votes against National Housing Intensification Bill
* Medium-density residential standards are a tangible step towards the decolonization of housing
* The new housing density rules must not compromise the design of the building
* Unions and National announce sweeping housing density law, three-story houses without consent
First, we need to improve medium density residential standards:
Setbacks (minimum depth)
As the Coalition for More Homes and City for People have proposed in their submissions, remove front yard setback requirements and side yard setbacks.
Removed front yards to create perimeter blocks and a sense of enclosure, with living spaces facing the street or the back of the property, rather than neighboring properties.
This may have the additional benefits of improving safety with ‘eyes on the street’ (also known as passive surveillance) and, through space consolidation, improving the utility of the space. landscaped.
Height from limit
Remove or reduce the height from the boundary provisions (rely on the building code’s G7 natural light provisions instead).
Height from limit / recession planes can make it difficult to scale over typical suburban sections, and daylight angles tend to create perverse design results.
The Coalition for More Homes’ submission proposes to remove the height from the boundary provisions for the first 20 meters of the site only, in order to encourage forward development of the site.
Outlook space (per unit)
Remove minimum perspective space requirements (instead rely on building code G7 natural light provisions).
By removing the front yard setbacks, more living space will be oriented towards the street or the open space at the rear of the property, improving the outlook without the need for specific controls.
Outdoor living space
As per the Coalition for More Homes submission, amend the outdoor living space arrangements to be proportional to the size of the unit. And per the A City for People submission, allow a common outdoor space instead of (or in addition to) outdoor space for individual units.
Remove density controls
Remove density controls (limits on number of units per site) as per Kiwi property submission and use volume and location standards instead.
Second, here’s how other aspects of the bill could be improved:
Introduce mixed-use zoning
As proposed by the New Zealand Initiative submission, the bill could be updated to introduce mixed-use zoning by default, allowing retail and commercial businesses alongside mid-density residences and supporting neighborhoods. pedestrian or neighborhoods 15 minutes away.
Extend to Level 2 Boards
As proposed in the Coalition for More Homes and A City for People submissions, extending the provisions to Level 2 urban environments (currently the proposed rules can be applied to Level 2 environments at the discretion of the Department) would allow greater densification in more places.
Retain the original 3 (d) policy in the National Urban Development Policy Statement (NPS-UD).
This promotes transit-oriented planning and greater density in areas with existing or planned rapid transit routes and access to better jobs, services and amenities.
And change to include frequent transport, for example, bus lines that run every 15 minutes or better, all day, alongside rapid transport such as train lines and buses.
Remove or reduce protections for special characters
The NPS-UD allows the character to be used as a “qualifying question” for exemptions.
Special character rules tend to protect low density inner-city neighborhoods. These protections should be removed or reduced if we are to guarantee dense and compact cities and the supply of equitable housing for all.
Ben Ross proposed in his submission that only Category A heritage buildings and mana whenua cultural heritage be considered eligible issues.
It is important to note that a council can make one of the mid-density residential standards more permissive, but not less.
Tips can improve results by doing the following:
Introduce form-based codes
The bill obliges local authorities to integrate medium density residential standards into district plans by introducing intensification planning instruments.
By using form-based codes (as an alternative to traditional zoning) as an instrument for intensification planning, local authorities could have greater control of the public domain at the perimeter or neighborhood level, while allowing greater control over the public domain. great flexibility and certainty for developers at the site level.
Use financial contributions to ensure green spaces
The bill allows local authorities to modify financial contribution provisions using an intensification planning instrument.
Rather than requiring private developers to provide green space (as proposed by some bidders), councils could require a financial contribution to open space networks / reserves, which could be planned regionally and nationally. neighborhood through the use of spatial plans under the (future) Law on Strategic Planning.
Encourage low-emission and energy-efficient housing
As proposed in the New Zealand Green Building Council’s submission, the bill could incentivize low-emission, energy-efficient housing that exceeds the current building code minimum, potentially through third-party verification standards such as Home Star or Passive. House.
The current Building for Climate Change program sets out our incremental code improvements planned over the next 10 years to improve building performance.
Encourage universal design
As stated in A City for People’s submission, it is generally not possible to provide elevators in a three-story layout.
Boards could encourage universal design (including through the application of Lifemark design standards) by lifting height restrictions (e.g. allowing four- to six-storey developments) if a new development is fully accessible and implements universal design.
In short, the National Policy Statement for Urban Development and the proposed medium density residential standards are a tool in the toolbox for increasing housing density and supply, and a component of a complex system that includes a wide range of interrelated laws, policies and regulations that impact different parts of the built and natural environment.
In my opinion, the planning system – and local councils – are best placed to focus on the public domain and the provision of urban amenities, while leaving developers free to develop on the site, with standards. minimum for habitable buildings to be defined by the building code.
Forms-based codes provide a potential planning tool that boards can use to improve urban amenity and the quality of the public realm, while implementing the new enabling medium density residential standards.
– Jade Kake is an architectural designer, writer and housing advocate based in Whangārei. Of Maori and Dutch origin, his tribal affiliations are Ngāpuhi, Te Whakatōhea and Te Arawa.