Wellington councils need to make room for more homes – report

The Wellington region will be short up to 21,000 homes unless changes are made to the existing land-use rules, a new report has found.

The Wellington region may have a population as high as 610,000 by 2047 – leaving it well short of enough housing on current projections. Photo: 123RF

The report by the region‘s five councils: Porirua, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, Wellington City and Kāpiti, showed that even if the cities built on all the currently available land, there would still be a shortage.

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy said a lot of the District Plans were no longer fit for purpose.

“Many of the District Plans are some 20 years old in the region, so what communities and what society want and how people want to be housed is somewhat different to what it was 20 years ago. So we need to go through and have a look.”

Some commercial and rural land in areas such as Upper Hutt may need to be changed to allow residential land-use, the report says. Photo: 123RF

The Housing and Business Development Capacity Assessment (HBA) estimated the population would reach between 550,000 and 610,000 people across the five districts by 2047.

The increase would require an additional 49,000 to 61,000 dwellings.

Across the councils there was capacity for 40,000 dwellings – leaving the possible 21,000 shortfall.

The government asked councils to look at their capacity for housing and the report took two years to complete.

“We‘re all projecting to have a higher growth than what was originally projected,” Mr Guppy said.

“So that‘s positive, but it also comes with making sure that we now plan accordingly and make sure that the region can accommodate it.”

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Cities would need to investigate changing some commercial and rural land-use to residential and increasing housing density, particularly near major transport modes and where there was existing infrastructure.

“That planning will take some time as each city works through that … there will be some hard decisions to make.”

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy and Porirua mayor Anita Baker. Photo: Supplied / Upper Hutt City Council / Porirua City Council

Porirua mayor Anita Baker said allowing for high density housing to be built in Porirua, near transport routes, was crucial.

“We are acutely aware that we do not have the capacity at the moment in Porirua … so it‘s a matter of turning around that land use now for the developers to use going forward.”

She said the city had a number of other developments also under consideration.

“With the District Plan that is going out we have got the Plimmerton Farms area … Pauatahanui there‘s a potential one, then there is Judgeford itself, rezoning as to what [block] size you want, so the consultation‘s out on that.”

She said the infrastructure costs associated with an increased population were the council‘s main concern.

“So in the Eastern Porirua project we are asking the government for more money to redo that infrastructure that was put in 50 years ago and is failing. So they‘re putting in their 2000 or so houses but the council can‘t fund that infrastructure cost.

“At the moment 19,000 ratepayers are paying for 57,000 residents which is a really hard task, but we do have so much area to grow so it‘s a matter of trying to make growth pay for growth.”

Councils need to provide an updated report to government by the end of 2021.

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