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Shaping the Future with a Housing Rulebook

The District Plan sets out the direction for new housing in the Wellington region and sets out guidelines in terms of housing, vibrant local centres like Tawa, space, light, noise, views and much more. It is essentially the “rulebook” on how Wellington grows and changes over the next 30 years.


In 2017, Wellington City Council consulted with communities about their aspirations for the future of the Wellington region, which were reflected in the Spatial Plan in 2021.

After various community consultation iterations, the Spatial Plan morphed into the Draft District Plan, which then became the Proposed District Plan in July 2022.  During this process, WCC received over 600 submissions, with Tawa Business Group submitting on each review.

The Proposed District Plan

With population growth predicted to be between 50,000 and 80,000 in the Wellington region over the next 30 years, the Proposed District Plan needs to reflect fundamental changes in the planning rulebook.  For Tawa, this includes:

  • Taller and denser developments in the suburban centres (up to 27m in some parts of Tawa), especially around train stations, to increase housing capacity and choice.

  • Intensification and mixed-use spaces, where buildings would have a mix of commercial, industrial and entertainment in one space.

  • Realising the impacts of natural hazards such as the Porirua Stream and the impacts of sea level rises.

  • Active partnership with mana whenua in the resource management process.

  • Providing guides that ensure sustainable long-term use of buildings and high-quality urban development.

Further consultation allowed submitters to engage in public hearings and together with experts who presented evidence on planning, urban design, transport, heritage and natural forces and hazards, the Independent Hearings Panel collated this and put forward recommendations to the Council in March 2024.

Where now?

On 14 March 2024, WCC Councillors approved most of the recommendations of the Independent Hearings Panel.  This includes rules on where high-density housing (up to 6 storeys) should go, building recession plans to ensure neighbouring properties retain some access to the sun and rules on where on a property a building can be built.

The Council rejected several of the Panel’s recommendations, which will now be referred to Minister Chris Bishop to make a final decision.  Those affecting Tawa include:

  • Extending the walking catchment from 5 minutes to 10 minutes from Kenepuru, Linden, Tawa, Redwood and Takapu Rise train stations, which potentially means 22-metre-high buildings within a 10-minute walk rather than a 5-five minute walk.

  • Removing the 1-metre front and side yard setback for 1-3 residential units in the medium and high-density residential zones.

In a complicated process, the District Plan will become operative at various stages as it’s being approved by Council and the Minister.

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