Changes announced jointly by the Government and the National Party yesterday were designed to make it easier to get houses built, make a dent in the housing affordability crisis and strip out unnecessary regulation.
Their focus was on greater Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch, where new intensification rules would allow up to three homes three storeys high to be built on many sites, without requiring a resource consent application as would now be required.
However, centres such as Dunedin and Queenstown could also be affected if they have areas ‘‘experiencing acute housing need’’.
Dunedin city councillor David Benson-Pope said it was not yet clear what implications there might be for the city, but the issue would be discussed at a planning and environment committee meeting early next month.
Southern Heritage Trust trustee Jo Galer was wary of a one-size-fits-all approach across New Zealand cities.
‘‘Dunedin’s special heritage and character needs to be kept in mind,’’ she said.
Trustees had already warned the Dunedin City Council in May about proposed changes to its district plan, fearing ‘‘our inner-city suburbs face the very real risk of being covered in cheap and ugly builds’’.
Developer Stephen Macknight said infill housing was usually regarded as a good thing until people saw it over the neighbour’s fence.
He believed a simplified planning approach had merit, but careful consideration should be given to character.
‘‘Greater density within cities makes sense,’’ he said.
A bipartisan approach from political parties was helpful for creating long-term certainty.
Developer Allan Dippie said greenfields development should not be overlooked.
Councils have already had pressure applied on them to ensure enough development opportunities exist.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said higher-density residential development was necessary nationally.
‘‘We can’t keep our cities sprawling ever outwards,’’ he said.
‘‘This is a cultural shift in how we’ve traditionally thought about housing, but we’re seeing growing demand for attached units and apartments, even here in Dunedin.
‘‘We also have to be careful that we don’t exacerbate the poor planning decisions of the past by pouring more people into car-centric neighbourhoods.’’
Medium-density zones in the city still had development capacity, he said.
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said his district would take a keen interest in what unfolded in the main centres. — Additional reporting RNZ