Auckland Unitary Plan's Top 10 Standards To Know About For Residential Development

The Auckland Unitary Plan has paved the way for significantly more land, not least in the inner suburbs where it is most sought after.

The Unitary Plan is made up of rules (or standards as they’re called) which we need to comply with in order to achieve the development outcomes that are prescribed or the objectives set out by Auckland Council.

How do you make sense of the standards? Let’s take a look...

1. Coverage

This is the maximum footprint measured as a percentage of your net site area that your building can occupy of the site that you are allowed to develop as of right. Typically anything included in this calculation is any structure that has a roof. It’s primary objective is to ensure that the bulk of the buildings suit the zone and area in which you are developing, it is also a method of managing stormwater adequately.

2. Height In Relation To Boundary

Consider this as a way to protect the impact on neighbouring properties. It is an invisible plane that runs vertically from your boundary up to a certain distance and then moves inwards at an incline (called a recession plane) of a certain percentage – normally 45 degrees. It creates a building envelope and is a key standard that architects will work with when creating the initial bulk and location design for your scheme.

3. Maximum Height

This is the maximum allowable height you are permitted to build as of right. This distance is taken from the natural ground level to the upper most part of the building structure. There are two ways that this can be measured – rolling height or average ground level. You are free to use which works best for you.

4. Yards

depending on the side of the boundary, yards are defined as either front, side or rear. The purpose is to create visual appeal from the street and access between buildings. Normally the following minimums apply 1m for side and rear and the front requires a minimum set back of 2.5m.

5. Outlook Space

A main living room must have an outlook space with a minimum dimension of 6m in depth and 4m in width, a principal bedroom must have an outlook space with a minimum dimension of 3m in depth and 3m in width. They’ve adopted this rule to ensure the house design ensures there is good visual amenity to the occupants of the building. It also provides passive surveillance benefits, provision of daylight (where all habitable rooms must have a window) and also sufficient set back so there is some measure of privacy.

6. Daylight

Daylight is important consideration as it imposes requirements on developments to ensure adequate daylight is provided in the rooms, not least the habitable ones. Typically the closer buildings are spaced together, the less able light is able to get through. So they normally require buildings to be spaced half the height away from the adjacent building’s wall.

7. Impervious Surfaces

This is a stormwater management control and so this rule requires developments to not put too much pressure on the stormwater network which is already over capacity. They would like to see as much natural ground soakage as possible. Its standard to require detention or retention systems into higher density developments to help with run off and discharge. This is calculated at the design stage. Impervious surfaces include:

·      roofs;

·      paved areas including patios, driveways and sealed or compacted metal parking areas, sealed and compacted metal roads;

·      and even natural substrates engineered to be impervious such as compacted clay.

8. Outdoor Living Space

New Zealand has a love of the outdoors and this standard is in place to uphold this culture. There is a requirement for a minimum outdoor living space of 20m2 per dwelling and no edge must be less than 4m. South facing living spaces are not included in this calculation so ensure you do not incorporate this ratio when designing your dwellings.

9. Landscaped Area

Further to the previous standard, council wishes to ensure that any future developments remain in keeping with the neighbouring surroundings and a level of visual amenity is maintained. They do not want to see and will not support monolithic structures one after the other down a streetscape. I don’t think any one wishes this. To resolve this, they require a minimum landscaped area and much weighting is therefore given to the front yard and so 50% of the front yard area must be considered landscaped. This can include grass, trees, planting and pathways under 1.5m in width. Decks can form a portion of this but no more than 25% of the total landscaped area would be included in this calculation.

10. Vehicle Access and Parking

Vehicle access is a fish hook and can become quite complicated particularly for designing for any future rear lots. Normally for single access a width of 3.5m is permitted. Where a site is to have a number of dwellings exceeding 5 and up to 10 cars, the access must be widened to 6m.

Graeme Fan