Yesterday I explored some of the issues around the council greatly increasing the costs of building houses in Wellington. The rules themselves are almost impossible to understand, a point the council concedes in Kafkaesque fashion where the first chapter of the guide to the district plan is an overview to using the guide! It’s a Russian doll of nonsense, which is too complex for professionals, let alone laymen to understand. In many places, the rules force people into building car parks, make it difficult for people to build small homes, and coerce people into mowing lawns. These rules add huge amounts to the cost of new buildings. They do nothing to provide Wellington with the smaller, affordable homes close to public transport and amenities that so many of us want and need.
I’d like to suggest a basic rewrite of the rules, to resemble something along these lines. Happy for input here!
- Residential zone – The minimum zoning to be to be set to a height of three stories, with one dwelling per 50sqm of section allowed by right. This would mean that all across Wellington, beautiful social homes like Berhampore’s Centennial flats or more expensive place like Mt Victorias Zavos Corner could be built without having to get special consent.
- Transit zone – within 400 meres of any transit station – apartments and terraced housing up to 6 stories allowed. This would be along the Johnsonville line, and the planned Railway station to Wellington airport transit line. The art deco apartment buildings of Mt Victoria and the modernist apartments of the city side of Brooklyn are the inspiration for a zone like this.
- Cliff zone – Any section that backs on to a steep hill can build to the height of that hill. this is how Oriental Bay, one of our most vibrant suburbs is zoned, and I suggest that this be rolled out cliffside throughout the city.
- CBD zone – No change to the cbd – new homes seem to be able to built here easily enough.
There’d be other changes too. there’d be no minimum parking requirements, less requirement for outdoor space in most suburbs, and mostly we’d allow low level commercial opportunities on the ground floor. The mix of housing options and amenities enjoyed by our residents of Thorndon, Newtown and Mt Victoria would be available throughout the city. We’d end up with more affordable homes and greater choice in our neighbourhoods. They’d be more walkable, and have better amenities and more viable public transport. Sound good?