On 1 June 2023, the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) voted to proceed with a variation to the Proposed District Plan (PDP). If approved, this variation will enable intensification of people and built form in urban areas across the district.
Collectively, the various QLDC planning documents seek to enable nearly 65,000 additional residential units to be constructed in the long term across the district. These new units will not necessarily fit the mould of existing suburbs, instead likely to be dominated by townhouses, low rise and high rise apartments, in a number of locations in Queenstown and Wānaka.
The new variation provisions are being promoted on the basis that intensification is needed in Queenstown and Wānaka to provide additional housing capacity and in different types of buildings than what is currently enabled. This includes high rise apartments. It is considered especially necessary given the existing shortage of housing available in lower price bands, which is projected to worsen further over time.
Land is being rezoned around the existing Queenstown and Wānaka town centres to enable more medium and higher density developments, as well as parts of Frankton Road, Frankton and the Three Parks area in Wānaka.
Medium and high-density urban zoned land is generally located near to existing and proposed services, or areas supported by significant transport corridors, such as Frankton Road.
Properties in the following zones will be subject to any proposed changes to their respective zoning provisions:
- Lower Density Suburban Residential Zone
- Medium Density Residential Zone
- High Density Residential Zone
- Queenstown Town Centre Zone
- Wānaka Town Centre Zone
- Local Shopping Centre Zone
- Business Mixed Use Zone
The variation will not affect land that has not yet been included in the PDP process.
What are the new rules?
Built form standards will be relaxed in some areas.
Height limits are increasing in both residential and commercial areas. In Queenstown Town Centre this change could be as extreme as from 12m to 24m. Parts of Wānaka Town Centre may change from 8m to 16.5m. A new setback requirement is also being introduced in Town Centre zones, requiring the upper floor level to be set back further than the main building frontage if above a certain height. This may change the architecture in these areas over time.
In the Business Mixed Use zone, the permitted building height may increase from 12m to 16.5m in Queenstown and Frankton North. The maximum building height limit may increase from 12m to 16.5m in Wānaka and from 15m to 16.5m in Frankton Marina.
In residential settings, the permitted building height in the Lower Density Suburban Residential Zone may increase to 8m, which is a jump of 1.5m to 2m for Arrowtown areas in this zone.
The Medium Density Residential Zone may see increases from 7m to 11m, plus an additional 1m for pitched roofs.
QLDC have indicated a blanket height increase will apply in the High Density Residential Zone for flat and sloping sites. However, they have not yet specified what this height limit will be. The minimum internal boundary setback requirement is also changing in the High Density Residential Zone, reducing to 1.5m required area between building and boundary.
The subdivision rules around minimum lot dimensions and minimum net site areas in the residential zones are also subject to change. The status quo that all subdivisions (unless specified as permitted) require resource consent will remain.
Effects on ‘views’ may be removed as a matter for the Council to consider when deciding on a resource consent for a building that covers a larger area of the site than permitted.
There will be new standards and matters of discretion related to amenity, privacy, servicing, and stormwater for residential units. This includes a requirement for minimum ‘outlook space’ and new waste and recycling storage space standards.
What does this mean for me?
Increasing what is enabled by the PDP means less proposals will require resource consent or will have less resource consent triggers and matters to be considered by QLDC in processing. There is a risk that matters such as effects on views, amenity and privacy may not be given appropriate consideration by QLDC as a result.
Removing views as a matter of discretion may mean your existing view may not have any protection in future. There will be less consideration of sunlight access and maintaining view shafts.
If your land is in one of the zones affected by the changes, you are likely to have increased development ability as either a permitted or consented activity, with less triggers for resource consent and a larger anticipated envelope of effects. It also means that your neighbours have the same.
You may be able to develop an extra storey of apartments or rooms in your complex/home. Your neighbour(s) may also be able to develop an extra storey and block your view or look into your home. The vacant lot in front of your home may be able to be built taller than your windows and block your view and sunlight hours significantly.
What can I do about it?
The proposed variation is likely to be publicly notified for submissions in July. Like any plan change, the provisions may pose both opportunities and challenges for people depending on their situation. Those potentially affected should ensure they file a submission. There are options to support and/or oppose the provisions, in part or in full.
If you require any advice on the variation and what it might mean for you, you can contact members of our Resource Management and Property teams on 03 441 2743 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.