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The Auckland Unitary Plan and zoning - what does a zone even mean??

Updated: Feb 20

The Auckland Unitary Plan (Unitary Plan) released in 2016 saw the introduction of new zonings for the entirety of the Auckland Region. The Unitary Plan identifies 7 types of zonings with different development, activity rights and overarching aims of what they’re each trying to achieve. The zones include the following:

  • Residential Zones

  • Business Zones

  • Open Space Zones

  • Rural Zones

  • Future Urban Zone

  • Strategic Transport Corridor Zone

  • Special Purpose Zones

The zoning of your site will determine what development or activity can be undertaken on it. As outlined above, the Unitary Plan has identified 7 general categories of zoning. However did you know that each category has various sub zonings? For example there are 6 different types of Residential zones, 10 Business zones, 5 Open Space zones, 5 Rural zones, and 8 Special Purpose zones. The Future Urban Zone and Strategic Transport Corridor Zone are standalone zonings.

So why is zoning important in when determining what you can do on your site?

What does this mean for me?

The introduction of the Unitary Plan may be changing the way that your neighbourhood looks and what you can do on your land. Many areas are having to wave goodbye to the kiwi dream of a quarter acre section as a result of the introduction of new zonings. Importantly, each zone has a different threshold of activity and density allowed. Within residential zones there is a differing scale of development possible with high and low density development enabled (and of course everything in between). For example there has been many areas residentially ‘upzoned’ within Auckland. We have written a blog about it, you can read it here.

All these different zonings can be confusing and may seem daunting. But don’t fret, the zones chapters in the Unitary Plan provide further detail on any restrictions and opportunities for your property. Planners are a great source of knowledge in this area, and can assist you in understanding what can be done in jargon- free language!

The different zones generally enable a different character to the development. As you would expect, all residential zones anticipate dwellings and in business zones industry/commercial/industrial/offices are the expected dominant activity. This is the same for rural and open space zonings. However the number of dwellings, buildings, types of activities and ability to subdivide vary between each zone.

How can I figure out the zoning of my site?

It’s easy to find out the zoning of your site - you can find this in the Auckland Unitary Plan maps. We have posted a blog on this previously that will take you through this step by step if you’d like some help.

Importance of zoning when buying property

It is scary when looking at different properties across Auckland and the various zones that apply, especially in the environment of a Level 4 lockdown! There is a wealth of information and advice out there, including hundreds of blogs on our website and a free e-guide. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to resist a look at houses for sale and think about “what if”, especially with the extra time available with many of us working from home. But if you’re taking things a step further and seriously looking at buying a new property, you should look out for the zoning of the site and investigate what that zoning allows or anticipates.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the planning provisions affecting your site. Can you subdivide, build new houses, operate a new business? What requires a resource consent? There are a multitude of potential restrictions or opportunities in Unitary plan which is determined by the zoning of your site.

What now?

The zoning of your site is a great indication if there’s development potential for your site. The right development though depends on your specific site zoning and what you want to achieve.

If you have any questions, please get in contact. We specialise in resource consents and pride ourselves on giving you accurate and realistic advice and taking the stress out of the process for you. Get in touch to discuss your proposal with one of our friendly team;

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 2024

Brittney Sutherland is a qualified RMA planner graduated from Auckland University with first-class honours. Brittney has experience in land development work and has also worked processing and lodgement of resource consent applications. She also provided project management and general communications.

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