Corner of a house under construction with hills in the background

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is supporting the development of the Government’s new requirements for councils to free up land for urban development and housing as part of the Going for Housing Growth programme (GfHG).

GfHG involves three pillars designed to improve affordability and address the underlying causes of the housing supply shortage. The pillars are:

  1. Freeing up land for urban development, including removing unnecessary planning barriers.
  2. Improving infrastructure funding and financing to support urban growth.
  3. Providing incentives for communities and councils to support growth.

Pillar 1: Freeing up land for urban development

In July 2024 the Government announced decisions requiring councils to free up more land for housing. These changes will be implemented through amendments to the Resource Management Act and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development, with the requirements expected to be in place by mid-2025. Formal consultation on the detailed design of changes will occur in early 2025.

Read the Ministers speech on the Beehive website(external link)

The decisions include:

Introducing Housing Growth Targets

  • New Housing Growth Targets introduced for Tier 1 and 2 councils, requiring them to enable 30 years of feasible housing capacity in their district plans, using ‘high’ population growth projections. 
  • New requirement that 'price indicators' (such as the difference in the price between land zoned for rural and urban use) do not deteriorate over time.
  • New central government tools to monitor council compliance and a mandate to take action where there is unjustified non-compliance. 

Enabling greenfield growth

  • Councils prohibited from imposing rural-urban boundary lines in planning documents (but can still have rurally zoned land).
  • Government investigating options to require councils to plan for 50 years of growth in their Future Development Strategies (up from 30) and be more responsive to private plan changes.

Intensification in the right places

  • Tier 1 councils must enable appropriate levels of density across their urban areas, having regard to demand and access to different services.
  • Tier 1 councils must enable housing intensification along 'strategic transport corridors' (e.g. key bus routes).
  • Tier 1 councils must directly offset any housing capacity lost due to reasons such as ‘special character’ elsewhere.

Mixed-use development

  • Tier 1 and 2 councils must enable activities such as cafes, dairies, and other retail across their urban areas, and especially in areas where Tier 1 councils are required to enable six or more storey developments.
  • Industrial-type activities can still be kept away from housing.

Balconies and floor area requirements

  • Councils cannot set minimum floor area requirements for apartments and other houses, or require balconies.
  • Developers can still choose to provide balconies and size dwellings in line with demand from buyers.

Making the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) optional

  • Currently, under the MDRS, Tier 1 councils are required to enable up to three houses of up to three storeys per site without a resource consent.
  • The MDRS will become optional for councils, once they have demonstrated compliance with their Housing Growth Target.
  • Customised requirements for councils that haven’t completed current plan change processes (see Factsheet: Council process to implement Going for Housing Growth (PDF, 151 KB)).

Decisions on Pillars 2 and 3 will be made over 2024 and 2025.

Read more about the Going for Housing Growth programme