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The plan will replace all the current district plans for the Buller, Grey and Westland District Councils.
"Medium density zones would be a new thing for the Coast, but there is a market demand for smaller lots for people who don’t want a big section," lead planner Lois Easton told the committee meeting last week.
The group meets fortnightly to oversee the creation of the new plan over the next three years.
Medium density housing was not for everyone and would not be widespread, but it was a useful way of providing housing for older adults and young people just starting out, Ms Easton said.
Because medium density housing was a new thing for the West Coast and developers were not familiar with it, it should be subject to resource consent and design guidelines, she said.
"We don’t want to end up in a situation where we allow a new type of housing that ends up getting a bad rap because people do poor quality developments. We need to ensure that by providing for small lots, they [the housing units] still fit well in the West Coast community and people are comfortable with it."
Buller deputy mayor Sharon Roche said her council was not opposed to the idea but did not want specific zones or precincts for it.
Despite the demand for smaller units, developers were limited in part by boundary setback rules in the present district plans, Ms Easton said.
"We have provided in the draft residential rules an allowance for a party wall for instance, in a duplex, which could allow a little of this sort of development, but not at a medium density; minimum lots would still be 350sq m."
The planners would discuss the issue with Buller District Council staff and see if it was possible to allow slightly more intensive housing without creating a specific zone for it.
"It might be worth making it a discretionary activity in the general residential zone; that doesn’t close the door completely but they would not be popping up everywhere."
Towns in most parts of the country had 1000sq m lots with a row of units along a driveway, Ms Easton said.
Areas that had been discussed for medium density housing zones included the old Hokitika Racecourse and Seaview Terrace.
"Ideally you do want to house older adults in areas with public amenities but the difficulty for Hokitika is that the town centre is probably the most at risk from flooding."
Seaview, high above the coastal town, was a valuable area for Hokitika given the natural hazards the town faced, including floods and storm surges.
"Allowing for some more intensive development at Seaview might be a good practical long-term approach."