What is Building Coverage?

Many developers and architects will be familiar with the term “building coverage” when planning a development. Building coverage is one of the key development controls and, along with other Standards in the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP(OP)), helps achieve the planned built character and density of development in specific zones. It also ensures the maintenance of a reasonable level of amenity for the future residents of the actual site and those on adjoining sites. Limiting site coverage also helps manage stormwater runoff. In this blog, we will look at site coverage standard in the AUP(OP) context.

What is building coverage?

Building coverage is the portion of the site that is covered by buildings or parts of buildings. It’s defined in the Unitary Plan as follows:

The part of the net site area covered by buildings.

It includes

  • overhanging or cantilevered parts of buildings

  • any part of the eaves or spouting that projects more than 750mm horizontally from the exterior wall of the building

  • accessory buildings.

It does not include:

  • uncovered swimming pools

  • pergolas

  • uncovered decks

  • open structures that are not buildings.

In Auckland, building coverage is usually calculated based on the net site area of the site. This can have a significant impact on the coverage figure, so does need to be calculated accurately. According to Unitary Plan definition, the net site area excludes any area subject to a road widening designation, any part of an entrance strip, any legal right of way, and access site. An example could be a rear site with a shared driveway or right of way; the right of way should be excluded from the net site area of the site.

The calculation of building coverage can at times be confusing, even where net site area isn’t an issue. Building coverage can include structures or parts of buildings that you may not usually think of, including an uncovered overhanging balcony, an entry porch exceeding 750mm in depth, or a shed over 1.5m in height. The AUP(OP) contains specific definitions for “buildings” (you can also take a look at our recent blog on this topic). Where the structures or part of the building meets the “building” definition in the AUP(OP), these parts need to be included in the site coverage calculation.

Building coverage standards in different zones

The Unitary Plan sets out different site coverage standards in different zones, these are (net site area):

· Residential – Single House Zone: 35%

· Residential – Mixed Housing Urban Zone: 40%

· Residential – Mixed Housing Urban Zone: 45%

· Residential – Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings Zone: 50%

Auckland Council utilises the building coverage Standard as one of the important markers between the different urban zones, to help determine whether the development proposed is in keeping with the expected character of the zone (and is not overdeveloped). It also plays an important role in maintaining a reasonable level of spaciousness within the site to provide a high-quality living environment for residents.

In addition to the zone provisions, it is also important to check if the site is subject to any overlays or precincts under the Unitary Plan as these can be easily overlooked by architects and developers. Often there are different site coverage standards in the overlays and precincts under the Auckland Unitary Plan, to achieve the intended outcomes of that specific particular area. The Standards could be less or more restrictive than the zone building coverage Standard.

What if the proposal infringes the building coverage standard?

If you infringe the building coverage standard in the Auckland Unitary Plan, your development will require a resource consent. In some cases, you may be able to amend your proposal to comply with the site coverage standard; even if you can’t you comply should consider if your infringement is too large for the zone.

You should also consider any other infringements of Standards because infringing one can often mean another is infringed. Other Standards, including landscaped area, impervious area, height, height in relation to boundary, and yard setback standards, collectively influence the character and amenity created.

It’s recommended that you discuss your proposal further with your planner. Although there is no black and white answer as to what level of infringement will be approved, you should discuss your specific project with your planner to enable assessment of the existing environment, the effects of what you propose and what mitigation you can offer.

Need more advice on your development?

If you require assistance with a resource consent application for your development, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Planning Plus. Planning Plus can assist from the initial investigations and concept through to the preparation of the resource consent application and managing the consnet process on your behalf. 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- www.planningplus.co.nz.

Claire is an Intermediate Planner at Planning Plus and has 4 years of experience in resource consenting. Claire has been involved various projects which include the preparation and assessment of resource consents for residential developments and subdivisions consents.

Claire holds the qualification of Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours) and is an Intermediate Member of the New Zealand Planning Institute.

In addition to her planning expertise, Claire is also fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.


As with all our blogs this information is preliminary in nature only and 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.

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