Can I build two houses on my site?

With rising costs of houses, land and clear direction from central government about increasing the density of dwellings, many people are looking into developing their land with an additional house (or 10). This may be your first development, and possibly you’re not sure where to start. Can you even building one more dwelling, let alone 10? This blog will help you with some of the basic preliminary investigations you need to do to answer these questions.


This blog relates to development within the Auckland area, affected by the Auckland Unitary Plan. It also relates to planning provisions as they exist in January 2022; in some Zones this will change in August 2022 when changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan, related to the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, are notified. This Bill (sometimes called the “3x3 Bill” in reference to the three dwellings, three stories high noted in the Bill) will provide for increased density. We have some blogs planned in the future about this Bill, so keep an eye out for them if you’re interested.


In planning terms, there are a number of “steps” to go through to investigate if your site is able to be further developed. We take a look at some of these below. We also have a number of related blogs on our website, www.planningplus.co.nz- take a look if you need more information.


Auckland Unitary Plan- Zoning

The first step is to confirm your sites zoning. The Auckland Unitary Plan splits urban areas into different residential zones which each have different expectations in terms of the character, and density of dwellings. In general terms, expected density can be thought of as increasing in the following order: Large Lot, Rural and Coastal Settlement, Single House, Mixed Housing Suburban, Mixed Housing Urban with the greatest density expected in the Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings zone.


The zoning sets out the outcomes the Council is looking for in that specific area, and the rules and Standards related to these. At a fundamental level it will identify if a second dwelling can be constructed- this may require resource consent, but it will guide you in relation to the risks and how difficult that process is likely to be.


In the “lower” density zones, generally only one dwelling per site is expected. However, if your site is large for the zone, the surrounding sites contain more than one dwelling (such as can occur in some areas with older cross leased sites) or the surrounding sites are all quite small, it may be possible to provide a solid planning argument for a development which strictly speaking doesn’t meet the Auckland Unitary Plan rules and Standards. Your Planner will need to provide a detailed assessment of the area, potential effects and in relation to objectives and policies of the zones. In these cases, you should seek specialists planning advice early in your investigation process.


If your site is within the Mixed Housing Suburban or Mixed Housing Urban zones, you can refer to these blogs for information on development potential and planning.


Some business zones also provide for dwellings; this varies depending on the zoning and we suggest discussing this further with your Planner.


Auckland Unitary Plan- Other Provisions

Apart from Zoning, the Auckland Unitary Plan also contains a lot of other information in its planning maps that can impact on development potential and location, and impact on what requires resource consent. This includes:

- Overlays,

- Controls,

- Designations.


You can identify if any of these affect your development site by searching for your site on the Council’s online planning maps. If these do affect your site, discuss these with your Planner to fully understand the impact on your land development. There are a number of potential triggers for needing resource consent, but the risks, difficulty and costs associated with this vary widely.


Site features

The features of your site also impact significantly on land development potential- do these features impact on where a building can be located, accessed, or its size? Relevant factors to consider include:

- Areas containing flooding or overland flow paths,

- Areas of instability,

- Site contours,

- Protected vegetation,

- Watercourses or wetlands,

- Access to the building site and how it can be connected to services.


Site constraints can trigger the need for resource consent, and you should take these into account when designing your development. Discuss these in detail with your Planner and get specialists advice early to avoid redesign, extra costs and delays later on.


Record of Title

Your record of Title will indicate constraints that apply in addition to any provisions in the Auckland Unitary Plan. This could include consent notice conditions and land covenants. You may need to vary consent notice conditions; this is a type of resource consent application. Find out more about Records of Title in this blog.


Development Contributions

Building a new dwelling will also require the payment of development contributions. These are a one- off contribution towards infrastructure and services and vary depending on the area. You can use Auckland Council’s calculator to get an estimate of the contribution.


You will also need to pay contributions to Watercare Services, and service connection fees. You can also obtain estimates of these by contacting the relevant utility provider.


Need more advice?

Planning land development can be confusing and navigating the Auckland Unitary Plan and the resource consent process can be a bit of a nightmare. Our experienced team specialise in resource consent applications, assisting both private clients and Councils (including processing applications for Council’s). We know the process inside out. If your development needs resource consent, get in contact for a no obligation discussion of your project. Contact us on hello@planningplus.co.nz or (09) 427 9966.


Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.


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