Kāpiti Coast district councillors looking for ‘big, bold’ action in plan for housing crisis


Kāpiti Coast's housing crisis will only get worse, with the district set to grow by another 30,000 people by 2051. (File photo)

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

Kāpiti Coast’s housing crisis will only get worse, with the district set to grow by another 30,000 people by 2051. (File photo)

Kāpiti Coast district councillors say “big, bold” action included in its draft intensification plan change is needed to address its housing shortage and prepare for an influx of 30,000 residents over the next three decades.

The proposed plan follows the passage last December of a law that will allow more medium density homes to be built near urban centres and rapid transport services.

This means residential areas in towns like Ōtaki and Waikanae, characterised by one to two-storey detached houses, could also be home to three-storey terraced and multi-unit dwellings.

Areas closer to town and near transport nodes could also see apartment buildings of up to six storeys and in the centre of Paraparaumu, the plan change would allow for development of buildings taller than 6-storeys and up to 12-storeys.

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A map showing how parts of Paraparaumu could feature more dense housing under Kāpiti Coast District Council's draft intensification plan change.

Kāpiti Coast District Council

A map showing how parts of Paraparaumu could feature more dense housing under Kāpiti Coast District Council’s draft intensification plan change.

It also means “special character” areas previously protected from development like the Waikanae garden precinct, could also be subject to intensification, with residents and groups like the Paraparaumu-Raumati Community Board and Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki having expressed concern about the impact of high density developments on existing neighbourhoods.

It’s this sort of “Nimby-ism” attitude which councillors Rob McCann​ and Angela Buswell​ say people need to get over in order to address the district’s severe housing shortage – a report to council found a further 16,200 dwellings were needed by 2051.

“There’s a massive need to provide houses and that means that some things have got to change,” McCann said. “We have to be big and bold, otherwise we are going to keep seeing people sleeping in garages and couch-surfing.”

He said the plan involved aimed to build the housing needed, whilst ensuring ease of access to transport and green spaces, adding these types of changes would be “gradual”. He worried pushback from communities, and future voters, might influence councillors decision-making.

The proposal emphasises higher density housing close to rapid transport services like train stations. (File photo)

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

The proposal emphasises higher density housing close to rapid transport services like train stations. (File photo)

Buswell said the district had to overcome its housing shortage and people being homeless. She said it was important to plan for growth in the right places, which included stopping urban sprawl and helping the district to build up.

Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan​ acknowledged the housing crisis but said development needed to be balanced against the “social contract” council had entered into with communities like those in the garden precinct. Centralist or regional government-driven reforms risked communities losing their voices and values, he said.

Gurunathan worried the government’s “sledgehammer approach” to the reform created the risk of “urban slums” by forcing the private sector to come up with solutions.

Deputy mayor Janet Holborow​ said the proposal had been driven primarily by the government reforms and had been informed partly by community consultation on growth strategy. “The changes are a response to the growing housing crisis and the need to take serious steps to address that.”

Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan has mixed views about the plan change, saying housing needs must be balanced with maintaining community character. (file photo)

Cameron Burnell/Stuff

Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan has mixed views about the plan change, saying housing needs must be balanced with maintaining community character. (file photo)

Councillor Gwynn Compton​ felt the proposal was a positive step for a district with “one of the most unaffordable housing markets”. He said it was a necessary change, adding Paraparaumu would likely be a city in its own right in 30 years and planning for this growth needed to start now.

Councillor James Cootes​ was also supportive of changes to increase housing supply, especially provision for papakainga.

However, he felt the government enforced changes would have a significant impact on the look and feel of communities, adding they went “potentially … too far”. “The concern locally is that the increased density won’t necessarily house ‘our own people’ but yet again see them priced out of the district.”

For councillor Sophie Handford​ the proposal represented the legacy council wanted to leave behind, adding it represented an intersectional solution to address both the district’s housing crisis and climate change.

The draft proposal will be discussed by councillors at a meeting on Thursday with a one-month community consultation period to follow in April.



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