Lower Hutt Council is looking at ways to increase the housing options in their city. One solution is re-zoning for medium density housing in the centre of the city.
On October 10, councillors agreed to consult on a proposal that could see infill, terraced and three-storey housing in some parts of the city. It would also allow for tiny houses and granny flats.
For a city that has always proudly called itself “The Garden City”, and likes to boast of its large quarter-acre sections, the proposals represent a major change in direction.
Lower Hutt residents opposing infill housing used this house, being built in the central city suburb of Boulcott, as example of what the future would look under a changed District Plan. They say it is too big for its small section, and its front door is too close to the road.
The need to significantly increase the housing stock was first identified in 2013, when Hutt City Council adopted its urban growth strategy.
It set the modest target of increasing the population by 10,000, with 6000 new homes, by 2031.
The planned rule change would allow infill, terraced and three-storey housing in some parts of the city, as well as tiny houses and granny flats.
Initially, much of the focus was on greenfield developments, particularly in Wainuiomata, where mayor Ray Wallace supported a proposal to build 2000 homes.
There was even talk of a $38 million road between Naenae and Wainuiomata, to help open up land in Upper Fitzherbert.
That idea was quickly abandoned in the face of a hostile reaction from rural landowners, many of whom would have become millionaires by a zoning change.
Thirty-year-old councillor Josh Briggs put the argument for more housing, saying he was speaking as a member of the “rent generation”.
The council is now focusing on how to fit more houses into existing residential areas.
On Tuesday, councillors reluctantly agreed to ask residents for their views on housing intensification. The meeting attracted a large, mostly elderly, audience from the central city.
Before getting a chance to vote, councillors heard from central city residents, who argued that allowing three-storey housing in well-established streets would lead to a loss of sunlight and diminish property values.