About the Act  

New Zealand has a shortage of affordable housing. A key driver of this shortage is restrictive planning rules which limit the heights and density of housing in residential areas.  

The Act will remove these restrictive rules, so we can expect to see more medium density homes being built across more of our major cities. This will mean more homes are built in areas that have access to jobs, public transport and other public amenities and community facilities.  

The Ministry for the Environment has implementation guidance and fact sheets on the Act.  

See the Ministry for the Environment guidance(external link)

Medium density residential standards 

The Act requires territorial authorities in the greater urban areas of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and the Rotorua Lakes district to apply medium density residential standards. Other councils in areas experiencing acute housing shortages may also be required to include the standards in their plans.  

The standards mean that up to three dwellings of up to three storeys can be developed on each site without needing to apply for a resource consent, as long as all other rules and standards have been met.  

District plans must include the density standards shown in the table below (or standards that enable greater development) from August 2023. 

Number of residential units per site



Building height


11m plus an additional 1m for a pitched roof

Height in relation to boundaries


4m plus 60° recession plane



Front yard: 1.5m

Side yard: 1m

Rear yard: 1m (excluded on corner sites)

Building coveage


50% of the net site area

Outdoor living space (one per unit)


Ground floor: 20m2, 3m dimension

Above ground floor: 8m2, 1.8m dimension

Outlook space (per unit)


Principal living room: 4m depth, 4m width

All other habitable rooms: 1m depth, 1m width



20% glazing of the street-facing facade



20% of the developed site with grass or plants

Where the standards apply 

Councils around New Zealand fall into different tiers (see below). Tier 1 territorial authorities, and Rotorua District Council, must implement the densities in all residential zones unless the area is exempt or a ‘qualifying matter’ applies. More information on these exceptions can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.   

The Minister for the Environment, in consultation with the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Crown Māori Relations, can require a Tier 2 council to adopt the medium density standards if there is an acute housing need. Tier 3 councils can also ask the Minister for the Environment if they can adopt the standards.  

Tier 1 Urban Environments 

  • Auckland (Auckland Council)  
  • Christchurch (Canterbury Regional Council, Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council and Waimakariri District Council)  
  • Wellington (Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council, Porirua City Council, Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt City Council, Kāpiti Coast District Council)  
  • Tauranga (Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council)  
  • Hamilton (Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, Waikato District Council and Waipa District Council).  

Tier 2 Urban Environments 

  • Whangārei (Northland Regional Council, Whangārei District Council)  
  • Rotorua (Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua District Council)  
  • New Plymouth (Taranaki Regional Council, New Plymouth District Council  
  • Napier-Hastings (Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Napier City Council and Hastings District Council)  
  • Palmerston North (Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Council and Palmerston North City Council)  
  • Nelson Tasman (Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council)  
  • Queenstown (Otago Regional Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council)  
  • Dunedin (Otago Regional Council and Dunedin City Council).  

Tier 3 Urban Environments 

  • All other local authorities with jurisdiction over an urban environment are also required to comply with the NPS-UD.  
  • An “urban environment” is defined in the NPS-UD as “any area of land (regardless of size, and irrespective of local authority or statistical boundaries) that: (a) is, or is intended to be, predominantly urban in character; and (b) is, or is intended to be, part of a housing and labour market of at least 10,000 people”.  

A new planning process 

A new planning process has been introduced to support councils to adopt the density standards and implement the intensification policies of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD).  

The Intensification Streamlined Planning Process (ISPP) is based on the streamlined planning process under the Resource Management Act, but is intended to be faster, easier and cheaper for councils.  


Tier 1 councils and the Rotorua Lakes district need to publicly notify the new rules and policies about medium density and intensification in their district plans by 20 August 2022. 

Related links 

Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act(external link) 

Resource Management (Territorial Authorities Required to Prepare and Notify Intensification Planning Instruments) Regulations 2022(external link)

Related documents

Regulatory Impact Statement: Bringing Forward the Upzoning of Land for Housing

Cost-Benefit Analysis of proposed Medium Density Residential Standards

BRF/20/21050960 Amended Process for Implementing the Medium Density Residential Zone

BRF20/21060984 Bringing forward and strengthening the National Policy Statement on Urban Development - Delegated Policy Decisions

LEG-21-MIN-0154: Cabinet Legislation Committee Minute of Decision

BRF20/21030900 Briefing 1: Applying a minimum density residential zone - design

AMI21/22080623 Bringing forward and strengthening the NPS-UD – options to provide greater flexibility for councils

BRF21/22081085 Further briefing on bringing forward and strengthening the NPS-UD

BRF20/21030895 Interim measures to accelerate the up-zoning of land for housing

BRF21/22081079 Further delegated policy decisions on the proposal to bring forward and strengthen the National Policy Statement on Urban Development

AMI/21/22080616 Cabinet oral item: Update on the work to bring forward and strengthen the National Policy Statement on Urban Development

Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill: Approval for Introduction

BRF20/21030903 Aide memoire on hyperlocalism

AMI21/22090659 Talking Points: Cabinet oral item 27 September and Cabinet Legislative Committee 30 September

AMI20/21120413 Implementing the National Policy Statement on Urban Development

AMI20/21080608 Further information on bringing forward and strengthening the NPS-UD

Further information on NPS UD implementation

Bringing Forward and Strengthening the National Policy Statement on Urban Development

CAB-21-MIN-0188 - Cabinet Minute of Decision

BRF20/21030901 Briefing 3: Advice on applying a medium density residential zone - exemptions and independent panel process