Auckland Council agrees approach to intensification around suburban centres


Auckland Council’s Planning Committee has agreed to an approach for enabling more apartment and terrace housing, and greater housing choices, close to Auckland’s local and town centres to meet central government requirements for more housing density.

The central government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPSUD) directs councils of New Zealand’s largest and fastest-growing cities to allow for more housing, at greater heights and density in places close to jobs, community services and public transport.

One of its policies directs the council to enable more housing density within and next to the city’s neighbourhood, local and town centres to match the level of commercial activity and community services in each centre, such as jobs, shops, education, businesses, and civic facilities.

This follows the government’s amendments to this NPS-UD policy in December last year through the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act.

The decisions made by the Planning Committee are separate from other NPS-UD requirements for intensification within ‘walkable catchments’ around Auckland’s city centre, 10 metropolitan centres and rapid transit stops, where the council agreed on separate approaches last year.

Approach to height and density around suburban centres
In Auckland, local centres generally service the convenience needs of surrounding residential areas with local shops and businesses, cafes, restaurants, and sometimes small supermarkets, for example, Lynfield and Greenlane West.

Town centres are larger and usually located on main arterial roads with frequent public transport. They provide a range of activities, including shopping, recreation, hospitality, jobs, schools, and other community services. Most are already identified for some surrounding residential intensification, such as Mangere and Royal Oak.

To meet the government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development requirements for more building height and density within and adjacent to suburban centres, the council has agreed to:

  • No changes to building heights within any suburban centres (Neighbourhood, Local and Town Centres)
  • No additional intensification for any Neighbourhood Centres, or Local or Town Centres that are small and or have low access (except for the widespread government requirements to enable for medium density housing of up to three storeys)
  • Enable terrace housing and apartments around large Local Centres with high accessibility and small Town Centres with high accessibility up to around 200 metres, or a two and half minute walk
  • Enable terrace housing and apartments around large Town Centres with high accessibility up to around 400 metres, or a five-minute walk.

Any changes to heights and density may also be limited by qualifying matters. These are exemptions the government allows to reduce building heights and density in some areas where it’s justified by robust evidence.

The council is required to publicly notify changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan by 20 August 2022 to implement the NPSUD, as directed by central government.

More details are available in the Planning Committee agenda here.