Plan changes target housing, parking

Anna Johnson
Anna Johnson
Dunedin could have more houses squeezed into less space, and fewer free car parks for commuters, under proposed changes to the city's district plan.

The revised proposals have been unveiled by the Dunedin City Council as it works on a second generation district plan (2GP), which is expected to be publicly notified next year.

The proposals include rezoning more of the city for medium-density development and allowing more homes, smaller sections and higher apartment buildings in some areas.

On-street parking rules would be revamped in places, with some all-day free parking on the edge of the central city replaced by more residents-only and short-term free parking.

That would happen over time, if changes to housing rules encouraged greater residential development and fuelled demand for on-street, residents-only parking.

Council city development manager Dr Anna Johnson said both changes were designed to accommodate the changing face of the city over time.

''I wouldn't expect to see wholesale change in any areas ... it would be very gradual,'' she said.

The housing changes had been developed in consultation with the community, including developers, and were intended as a response to an expected surge in demand for smaller housing types.

It was expected 7600 new units would be needed by 2031 to house the city's ageing population of ''empty nesters''.

Dr Johnson said the proposals had changed from last year, and followed feedback which suggested the community wanted more choice to move to smaller homes within existing neighbourhoods.

Last year's proposals had suggested a new medium-density residential zone divided into 12m and 9m height restrictions.

The old proposal allowed a 12m height limit in the inner city, below the Town Belt and around the University of Otago campus, where some medium-density development already existed.

That would allow two-storey apartment buildings to become three-storeys, while ribbons of 9m-high medium-density zoning further out would stretch along public transport routes.

However, Dr Johnson said the earlier proposals were a starting point, and since then a ''block by block'' architectural survey had occurred.

It identified more areas either suitable for medium-density zoning, or where it already existed.

As a result, 23 ''clusters'' of medium-density zones were now proposed, based on proximity to public transport, recreational facilities and other criteria, she said.

Those clusters now covered hill suburbs below the Town Belt, but also further out, including parts of Mosgiel, Waverley and Port Chalmers, and a large swathe of North Dunedin.

The change from last year actually reduced the total amount of land covered by medium-density zoning, down from 627ha to 470ha.

Despite that, the proposal would still more than double the total amount of land zoned for medium density use in the city.

The same split in height restrictions would apply, and some areas covered by the new zone were already either zoned for or developed to a similar level of medium density development, she said.

Other parts of the city's new zone never would be, where they were deemed unsuitable for higher density development despite the zoning, she said.

Residents would notice change where greater site coverage was permitted by the new approach, or where restrictions on minimum subdivision sizes were eased, she said.

That included parts of Opoho, where an existing residential 1 zoning requiring a minimum lot size of 500sq m would be replaced by the new medium zoning allowing smaller lots of just 200sq m.

Other changes included allowing less outdoor living space, a 10% increase in total site coverage and an easing of some angle plane rules in parts of the new medium density zone.

The changes would allow some larger apartments, but also two small homes - or the addition of a ''granny flat'' - on sections that previously only housed one home, she said.

''Possibly where there was one house next to you there could be two, but you won't necessarily have a big apartment appearing next to you.''

Eight new heritage residential zones were also proposed, which would replace heritage precinct rules and focus on protecting character-contributing buildings, she said.

Owners covered by the new rules would require consent for some modifications or repairs, but owners of newer buildings would be given a freer hand.

''It's not about telling people `no'. It's just about ensuring that [work is] done in a way that maintains that character.''

Parking changes would depend on how much residential development occurred as a result of the new housing rules, meaning the number of parks to be lost was not known, Dr Johnson said.

Only a portion of each street would be taken up by any new mixed residents and short-stay parking areas, but would mean less room for free all-day commuter parking.

Some would probably opt to pay for parking in the city, while others opted to cycle, walk or use public transport, she said.

The council was writing to residents in affected areas to inform them of changes to zoning rules, but has also launched an online survey on the council website.

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