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Plan Change 12 – being planned

Plan Change 12 – being planned
17 Jun 2022

Plan Change 12 – Growing up

Hamilton's response to Government direction for growth and the changes we must make to the District Plan (our rule book for development.)

We’re making some changes to Hamilton’s District Plan, the ‘rule book’ that guides development in our city. These changes will provide for more housing, and higher density housing, across the city. 

This means there will be changes to the rules around how you can develop your property. But it also means more homes can be closer to all the things we need like shops, jobs and public transport. It also provides for more homes, and a greater variety of homes, for the people that call Hamilton Kirikiriroa home.

We’re aiming to notify these changes for public feedback on 19 August this year. That will be your chance to find out more detail and have your say on our proposal.

Why are we making these changes?

Since 2020, Central Government has reset the rules for how big cities can grow and introduced two pieces of legislation that tells councils how they must make that happen. These are the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) and Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021.

Amongst other things, the new rules requires cities like Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Hamilton to grow up, not just out.

What do we mean by density?


When we talk about density we’re talking about how compact the housing in our city is. For example, the size of our sections and how many storeys high we can build.


Low density is typically large sections, for example 800m2 with a house and a large backyard.


Higher density can be multi-level townhouses and apartments like those already seen in parts of the central city and around the university.


What's next?

  • Now – Preparing the draft plan change.
  • 19 August / September – Public notification (and your chance to tell us what you think).
  • Late-2022 to mid-2023 – Hearings (you can speak to your submission in person).
  • Late-2023 – Notification of the decision.
  • Early-2024 – Plan change operative and the new rules come into effect.


  1. The City Planning Unit are on track to notify Plan Change HCC response to the Enabling Housing Act by 20th August
  2. Plan Change 12 will be heard by a range of highly qualified independent hearing panel members, chaired by David Hill, with Vicki Morrison-Shaw, Dave Serjeant, and Nigel Mark- Brown.
  3. A significant amount of investigation has gone into understanding the Cities obligations regarding the protecting and enhancing the river and how intensification as directed under the Enabling Housing Act will support this.
  4. The evidence points to the fact that further unfettered intensification will have a detrimental impact on the river. As such triggering a ‘qualifying matter’ (QM) under the Enabling Housing Act. When a QM is tiggered, it provides Council the ability to modify the Medium Density Residential Standards and the wider directives of NPS:UD, to accommodate the QM.
  5. This leads Hamilton City to needing to amend the MDRS provisions to ensure intensification is enabled in a manner that does not adversely effect the river, and to an extent, enhances it. This modified approach which the City is developing means that the MDRS provisions are unlikely to have immediate legal effect from date of notification.
  6. In general, the findings from the evidence, point to greenfield areas being able to support higher density than in brownfield, so a more permissive approach to density in these areas is being worked on. In brownfield areas, a more concentrated approach to enabling density is being worked on in and around the city-centre. While greater density outside of these areas won’t be precluded, the hurdles will be higher given the need to manage the 3-waters impacts on the river.
  7. The approach being considered by the City includes: what additional 3-waters provisions eg rainwater tanks, permeable surfaces are required to mitigate the effects on the river; are there parts of the city that can cope with more density than others. On top of this, the use of Financial Contributions are also being considered to support off-setting the effects of intensification, for example local network upgrades, street-scape beautification and initiatives which support the health and wellbeing of the river.
  8. Despite the likely amendments to the MDRS, the changes in density and built form which these will give rise to will be some of the most significant Hamilton has seen.
  9. Plan Change 12 approach will be resolved at DP meeting on 4th August with a recommendation to Council on the 18th
  10. Full details of the changes will be released to the public at notification on 20th


Feel free to contact us