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What are the development options for my site?

You are likely to be spending a lot more time at home at the moment and perhaps even looking out your windows at your neighbourhood and wondering “Can I do that?” or “What can I do with my property?”. The Auckland Unitary Plan is still relatively new, and people are still becoming aware of what it can allow them to do with their piece of land. In this blog, the sixth in our series on investigations from home, we spend some time looking at how you can better understand the development options for your land.

Zoning: is usually the first place to start when considering developing land. You can look up the zone on Council’s Unitary Plan Viewer. If you’re not located in Auckland, you can still look up the zoning online; just search “District Plan” on the Council website and this will bring up the District Plan maps. The different zones are indicated with different colours or symbols.

Image Source: Auckland Design Manual

Different zones allow for different development, and in terms of houses each zones allows for different numbers of houses per property. Each zone also has different minimum site sites if you’re creating a vacant lot for someone else to build on.

In Auckland, the Single House Zone is generally as the name suggests and one dwelling per site is provided for. On the other hand, the Terrace Housing Apartment Building zone envisages development up to 5-7 stories. Although resource consent is required, Council’s preference is for more rather than less in these zones, although people are still buildings 1-2 dwellings per property. For that reason, it could be a good option to join forces with a neighbour to maximise your development potential.

The most typical areas ripe for redevelopment are Mixed Housing Urban and Mixed Suburban Zones and this is where the Unitary Plan allows for more intensive residential living. Up to three dwellings per site is a permitted activity in these zones and this is a signal that the process should be relatively straightforward, providing the design of any new dwellings meet certain development standards. The property also needs to be adequately serviced for water, wastewater and stormwater. You would also need to check natural hazards and other potential restrictions at the property (take a look at our blog on certificate of Title from last week, for example). Development in these zones may still need resource consent, but more dwellings in these areas is expected.

If you have questions, we can help you to understand the purpose of different zones.

Overlays: even if the zoning allows for additional dwellings, development should generally be clear of or minimise any impact on scheduled trees, significant ecological areas, flood plains, overland flowpaths, etc. Overlays applying to your property can also be found on the Unitary Plan Viewer (if you’re in Auckland) or on the planning maps if you’re located outside Auckland.

How can I make the best use of the land?

Image Source: Auckland Design Manual

The best place to start is to have carry out a site analysis. The level of detail will depend on the amount of development proposed but would typically identify site characteristics, including any existing or man-made features.

If you are keeping a dwelling, there needs to be room to build a new dwelling elsewhere on the site that complies (or is close to complying) with the development standards for the zone. Council want to see proposals with enough room to allow daylight between buildings (if they are not attached), enough outlook from main bedroom and living rooms and enough outdoor living space. It is also important that there is enough room for a vehicle to access any new dwelling.

How old an existing house is and what condition it is in will influence whether you wish to keep any existing dwelling. What kind of foundation does it have, and can it be moved easily in order to reuse the dwelling but make the best use of the land available?

It might be worthwhile removing a dwelling if you can build three in its place (rather than two for example).


Sometimes you will need to work around services in order to develop your property. There might be a major sewer line running through your property which will need to be avoided or bridged. Take a look at our recent blog about GIS to see how you can find out about service line locations.

You will also need to check that there is sufficient capacity in the local wastewater and stormwater systems. In some parts of Auckland, the network is at capacity and resource consent is required to add any additional wastewater or stormwater flows into the network. This is especially common in old neighbourhoods of Auckland where stormwater and wastewater drain to a combined line.

Flooding and overland flow paths will also influence where development can take place and you might need to divert an overland flow path in order to build a new dwelling; or design a house with a particular floor level to protect property in the event of a flood.

These matters can form reasons that resource consent is required. A civil engineer can advise on these matters and help us report on them. Again, we have a range of suitable contacts we can refer you to.

Need some help?

Please feel free to contact us if you need advice about getting the most development potential out of your site. Together, our team has over 52 years of experience in land development and resource consents are our speciality. We can provide a detailed development potential analysis of your site, or if you’re keen for something more basic to start with you can use our free online 20 minute consultation with one of our super experienced planners, and we’ll provide you with obligation- free preliminary planning advice. Give us a call, you’ve got nothing to lose! You can contact us on 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.

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.

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