Land for Small Houses – Lets Change the Plan

Guess what, we have a housing shortage crisis (and quality issues buts that’s another day’s topic).   The whole industry, including councils, Housing NZ and developers, volume builders and other players need to be involved in new solutions.  So far they are working on providing more traditional housing types, which are still needed, but so is some out of the box thinking!

Like:

100 on 200

This means building up to 100m2 houses on 200m2 sections.  This is simple hey?  Not so, there are numerous planning rules, development standards and development contribution policies that discourage or block this.  Yes, there are good reasons behind these rules/standards/policies BUT it’s time to go back to the start and rebuild from the new paradigm that we must facilitate more housing development.  When making changes, we need to acknowledge the reasons that the current rules were put in place and also deal with new hazards such as climate change driven increases in rainfall.

Currently “affordable” sections (i.e. 400m2) are often the most sought after, and not just for the sake of saving money.  It also represents an opportunity to be in the same suburb as other family members.  First home buyers and downsizers are two groups in particular who would often like to live near their family but there is often nothing suitable available.  For affordability, social cohesion and housing supply reasons, let’s make 25% of housing sections, 200m2, with up to 50% building coverage allowed, scattered throughout new developments and existing suburbs.

Common current impediments and proposed changes:

 

Rule/policy/standard

Issues Improvements Notes
Minimum lot size eg 400m2 requires sections to be too large and expensive 200m2 for subdivion’s 25% of suburb
Maximum building coverage eg 40% limits size of house and encourages larger section. 50% max site building coverage 70% max site impervious coverage, stormwater detention
Development Contribution’s policy does not discount smaller dwellings A 1 bedroom 30m2 house is incorrectly assumed to have the same impact on Council infrastructure services as a 5 bedroom 250m2 house. -25% for 2 bedroom

-50% for 1 bedroom

+10% for each bedroom above 4

Minimum car parking requirements eg 2 per dwelling. Requires too much land, assumes car dependence rather than UBER, walk, cycle or Public Transport 1 parking place per dwelling, 1 visitor space per three houses for groups Up to 100m2 house.