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PC78- Qualifying matters and their implications

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Lots of changes are proposed to the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP(OP)), which our team has been following closely and sharing related information with you through a series of blogs. To understand a little more about what is going on, you can find a very helpful summary here.


Proposed Plan Change 78 (“PC78”) to the Auckland Unitary Plan was notified on 18 August 2022 and aims to give effect to central government required changes, as detailed in the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (NPS-UD) and the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS). In summary, PC78 is about intensification and permitted activities under the new Density Standards (often called “MDRS”) and has immediate legal effect from 18 August 2022, unless the intended development involves the following:


  • 4 or more dwellings per site, and/or

  • 3 or less dwellings per site and one or more of the proposed dwellings do not comply with one or more of the Density Standards, and/or

  • a site that is in a ‘new residential zone’ (proposed to be rezoned to a residential zone); and/or

  • a site that is subject to a qualifying matter.

As you can see, in many cases PC78 does not have immediate legal effect. In this blog we will talk more about what a “qualifying matter” is and it’s implications.


What is a “qualifying matter” and their implications?

We have talked a little about this in one of our recent blogs (here). You can use this map (called the “PC78 Map Viewer”) to check if your property is covered by a mapped qualifying matter. Please note that not all qualifying matters can be depicted spatially and, therefore, are not shown by the map viewer provided by Auckland Council. The Plan Change 78 map viewer must be read alongside the Plan Change 78 text, which you can access here.


In summary, qualifying matters are characteristics or features of some properties or within some areas where it is appropriate to modify or reduce building height or density sought by the MDRS changes. This includes sites of cultural, historical, or ecological significance or areas where development is affected by natural hazards or where there are infrastructure constraints.


As we mentioned above, if a site is subject to a qualifying matter the new medium density residential standards do not have immediate legal effect and we are advised the Standards would not have legal effect until around 2024. This is when the conclusion of the statutory decision-making process (when proposed changes are made operative) is expected. In cases like this, the current Standards of the Auckland Unitary Plan continue to apply, and a development may require resource consent (even if the proposal is for up to 3 dwellings).


Below we will talk more about qualifying matters associated with infrastructure, as this “Qualifying Matter” affects large areas of Auckland. This is largely because the scale of development enabled by the MDRS was not envisaged by the Unitary Plan and related infrastructure planning processes- PC78 is the result of central government required changes to the Unitary Plan and in many respects, this has not been planned for at local levels.


Next week we will talk more about other qualifying matters identified by Auckland Council- you can access this one our website www.planningplus.co.nz.


Significant infrastructure constraints

Auckland Council has identified infrastructure constraints as qualifying matters as follows:


  • Water and/or Wastewater Constraints Control: this is related to residential sites with existing significant capacity constraints.

  • Stormwater Disposal Constraints Control: this control covers sites located in the central isthmus of Auckland where there are limitations associated with stormwater disposal, as it is not possible to connect these sites to the public stormwater network, and ground soakage capacities are constrained. According to Auckland Council, these sites are located in Mount Eden (being an area in the vicinity of the intersection of Mount Eden and Balmoral Roads, and bounded by Manukau Road, Epsom Avenue, Matipo Street, and Gorrie Avenue).

  • Combined Wastewater Network Control: this control covers residential sites where wastewater and stormwater networks are combined, which is an important infrastructure and environmental issue.

  • Beachlands Transport Constraints Control: this qualifying matter has been proposed by Auckland Council as the existing local road network, which includes Whitford-Maraetai Road, is already under stress due to the very limited public transport in this locality.


As soon as the proposed changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) are operative, developments proposed within sites subject to water, wastewater or stormwater infrastructure constraints (qualifying matters) will be required to provide appropriate infrastructure as part of obtaining resource consent, or at least demonstrate how the development can be serviced based on existing capacity. There are some areas where there is likely to be no capacity for further development, and others where capacity will reduce over time as more developments receive resource consent.


My property is subject a qualifying matter – what do I do now?


It is important to clarify that despite being a criterion to determine if the new medium density residential standards have immediate legal effect, the qualifying matters identified by Auckland Council are still proposed, and there may be changes when the final decision is made in 2024. This depends on the submissions made to PC78. Until then a development within a site subject to a proposed qualifying matter may require resource consent, with the AUP(OP) provisions largely continuing to apply. The assistance of a qualified professional is recommended.


In addition, you can also get involved and make a submission to say what you think about the proposed changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP). Auckland Council have made this easier by adding submission buttons on its website (on each individual plan change page). There is also a “Friend of the Submitter” process that you can use to assist with your submissions. Submissions are open until 29 September 2022.


Need more advice?

If you are unsure how the MDRS, the proposed changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) or a qualifying matter will impact your site or development, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Planning PlusTM.


Planning PlusTM can assist you with any resource consent process including providing initial planning advice. You can contact us on hello@planningplus.co.nz or (09) 427 9966. We also have a lot of other blogs on our website that can help you with your resource consent journey.



Clara Casaes is an Intermediate Planner at Planning Plus™and has 14 years of international experience working on land development and transport infrastructure projects. This includes land development and subdivision on all scales, and large-scale infrastructure projects such as busways, subways and airports. During these years, Clara’s work primarily related to consenting, including writing Assessments of Environmental Effects, attendance at Hearings, consulting with stakeholders and managing multi-disciplinary project teams. Clara’s background has provided her with a big picture view from initial concept design through to the construction phase of a project.

As with all our blogs this information is preliminary in nature only and we have used our best endeavours to ensure it is correct at the time of writing. It is not intended to substitute for your own investigations or obtaining specific advice on your proposal from professionals. Planning Plus LtdTM is not liable in any way for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2023


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