I get asked this question a lot. Most of the time, the answer is a pretty straightforward yes or no. This is because every council in New Zealand uses zoning in their District Plan. In planning jargon we call this approach ‘activity-based’. Put simply, the zone determines where different land uses are anticipated.

When it comes to land, zoning is destiny (and density).

If you know the zone of your property, you can work out what land uses are likely to be allowed. It’s all written in the objectives and policies of the District Plan. Let’s take a few examples:

Enable residential intensification within the Inner and Outer Residential Areas provided that it does not detract from the character and amenity of the neighbourhood in which it is located.

Wellington City District Plan Policy 4.2.1.5

(1) Housing capacity, intensity and choice in the zone is increased.
(2) Development is in keeping with the neighbourhood’s planned suburban built
character of predominantly two storey buildings, in a variety of forms (attached
and detached).
(3) Development provides quality on-site residential amenity for residents and
adjoining sites and the street.

Auckland Unitary Plan H4.2 Objectives for the Residential – Mixed Housing Suburban Zone

Provide for the following distribution of different areas for residential development, in accordance with the residential zones identified and characterised in Table 14.2.1.1a, in a manner that ensures:
(iii) medium density residential development in and near identified commercial centres in existing urban areas where there is ready access to a wide range of facilities, services, public transport, parks and open spaces, that achieves an average net density of at least 30 households per hectare for intensification development;

Christchurch District Plan Policy 14.2.1.1

These policies make it pretty clear that housing development is anticipated in existing urban areas.