Rural areas are becoming more and more attractive, and many people are now living or looking to live on lifestyle blocks. To many of us “townies”, a lifestyle block seems huge and we assume that because there’s so much land, surely we can subdivide. Right? Well, quite often, no. But what about another house? In most cases this is also a “no”.
With limited subdivision potential, and limited cases where you can build more than one dwelling, many people are looking towards minor dwellings. With rising house prices, a minor dwelling is also being seen as a way to help out your children and other family.
What is a minor dwelling?
A minor dwelling is a small residential unit that is established on the same property as the main dwelling and may either be attached to or detached from the main dwelling. Minor dwellings have traditionally been used by property owners to provide additional self-contained accommodation for either extended family or as an additional income source. They have often been built on properties where full sized second household unit cannot be built.
The definition of minor dwelling specifically requires that the minor dwelling should be secondary to the main dwelling at the property and will have some element of dependence to the main dwelling such as shared access.
What do I need to look out for?
We have previously written a blog on minor dwellings in residential zones, and this blog focuses on rural zones in the Auckland area.
In Auckland, minor dwellings are provided for in rural zones, but they all require resource consent. Remember that a resource consent can be declined; you need to do your homework to make sure what you propose is in line with what the Council expects and put forward a thorough resource consent application.
To improve your chances of getting your resource consent approved, you should meet the following criteria:
There must be no more than one minor dwelling per site;
The building must comply with the relevant yards setback requirement and height standards for buildings in the zone;
The proposed minor dwelling must be located on a site greater than 1ha;
The proposed minor dwelling must have a floor area less than 65m2 excluding decks and garaging; and,
The minor dwelling must share the same driveway access as the principal dwelling.
If you can’t meet these criteria, you should have real, sound reasons for not complying, and try to be as close as possible to meeting them. Simply wanting a different location, a bigger building or a separate driveway when you could comply is unlikely to be accepted by the Council. As with all district plan rules, these have been drafted for specific reasons, seeking specific outcomes.
The planning rules also encourage minor dwellings to be ‘close’ the main dwelling at the property. Whilst no further description of ‘close’ or dimension is provided in the Auckland Unitary Plan, compliance with the above criteria will help to ensure that the minor dwelling is ‘close to’ and secondary to main dwelling. We would not suggest that you have a large separation distance, unless there are some very sound, site specific reasons. We suggest you get planning advice on this from the outset.
There are a lot of other issues you also need to consider, such as servicing (make sure that additional wastewater from the minor dwelling doesn’t mean you need a wastewater discharge consent), parking, access and suitability of the building platform. Make sure your building platform is located away from natural features, areas of flooding, overland flowpaths and areas of instability.
Minor dwellings cannot be subdivided off from the property on which the main dwelling is located and the Council can’t allow applications to do this (it’s a “prohibited activity”).
What about the costs?
As you will need a resource consent, there are costs associated with preparing an application and for the Council to assess it. Your resource consent application will require, as a minimum, plans (accurate and to scale), a current copy of your Certificate of Title and an Assessment of Environmental Effects. You may also need to consult with neighbours and other groups. Many people engage a Planner to manage the resource consent process for them.
We have written a blog on Council costs that you will find useful.
If your resource consent is approved, you will also be required to pay development contributions. This is a one-off payment towards infrastructure as demand increases through the introduction of an additional dwelling. You can use Auckland Council’s online calculator to estimate what these will be here.
As with most building work, a minor dwelling will also require a building consent.
Want more information?
Planning Plus has extensive experience in the rural environment, with staff having worked in rural areas since 2003, and can assist with development of your rural property. Resource consent applications are our speciality, and we work hard to take the stress out of the process for our client. Get in contact today for more information on 427 9966 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
© Planning Plus Ltd 2023
Jo Michalakis is a Senior Planner at Planning Plus and has over 14 years of resource management experience. Jo has a wide range of experience, including public and private sectors and has worked at both Auckland Council and Gisborne District Council.
Her planning work experience includes residential, commercial, infrastructure, natural environment, heritage and community projects throughout the North Island of New Zealand. She has experience in policy development, preparation of assessments of environmental effects and processing resource consents.