I think I have discovered a “new” bit of information in regard to secondary suites policies . I mistakenly thought that Auckland and Christchurch/Banks Peninsula had similar residential zoning policies that would both restrict internal secondary suites. Now I don’t think so.
The residential zoning regulations in the Auckland District Plan, are VERY different than the Christchurch/Banks Peninsula district Plan. In fact, I believe an internal secondary suite – ie self contained unit (kitchen bathroom living sleeping etc) internal to an existing residential home – would be legitimate in most standard residential zones (eg 6a) in Auckland…as long as the density requirements (number of people per minimum size site- see below) were satisfied. Note: the Auckland Plan relies on “density ” levels: residential zone 5 is low density, residential 6 (a and b) is medium density and residential zone 7 is high density – as in the table below.
If this is the case then Auckland could provide a “model” for Christchurch in terms of modernizing its zoning of residential zoning. The hiccup is that I might be wrong on this…but am hoping someone in your legal team could make some inquiries. Changing chch zoning would be a lot easier politically if there already is a model in NZ, esp from Auckland.
The key idea here is that Auckland Plan defines a “residential unit” in terms of people and activity….not in terms of building or room type (kitchens or rooms with laundries) containing a single kitchen , as in CHristchurch Plan . [The Auckland plan is very specifc about this density idea as part of their philosophy as well in terms of permitted activities - like rest homes - in residential zones.]
Here is the Christchurch Plan’s defintion of a residential unit:
Residential Units ”Means a residential activity which consists of a single self contained household unit, whether of one or more persons, and includes accessory buildings and a family flat. Where more than one kitchen and/or laundry facility is provided on the site, other than a kitchen and/or laundry facility in a family flat, there shall be deemed to be more than one residential unit. ” (JF bold added).
Compare the Auckland City Plan defintions :
But the definition of a residential unit is defined in two places in their “definitions” . A residential unit is a building or rooms designed to be used by one or more persons as a separate household unit.
means a building, a room or group of rooms used or designed to be used exclusively by one or more persons as a separate household unit. (JF adds the bold: notice the conjunctive term “or” between the bold words )
A household unit in turn is defined as a number of people and any normal domestic activity occurring on the premises
means a separate housekeeping unit, consisting of either:
(a)one person; and up to four people unassociated with the household; or
(b)two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption or by legal guardianship; and up to four people unassociated with the household; or
(c)a group of not more than eight persons unrelated by blood, marriage, adoption or legal guardianship.
and includes any of the normal domestic household activities which may occur on the premises. (JF adds bold)
Note the complete absence of reference to a single kitchen or laundry facility as a defining characteristic of a single residential unit. Indeed, the word kitchen is used 3 times in the entire Auckland District Plan!! What is important is that a residential unit is defined in terms of a maximum number of people: well any number of people actually in a family (related by blood- so eg a very a large extended family ) plus up to four unassociated persons doing normal domestic activities.
The term housekeeping unit itself is defined in the plan as a certain number of PEOPLE doing NORMAL DOMESTIC ACTIViTY . Whether that activity is done by the people themselves “separately” or jointly or some mix of the two or some other way all depends on what normal domestic activity means. SOme people sleep together some people don’t – they sleep separately . SOme people use toilets together some people don’t – they wash, brush their teeth, clean and pooh separately . SOme people cook and/or eat together, some people don’t – they cook and or eat separately . or some mix…..of all this stuff over time….
One residential unit can have many many different rooms in a building and many different types of people. I mean a residential unit could consist of a huge mansion: 8 bedrooms, 4 living rooms, 6 bathrooms 2 games rooms, 3 dining rooms, 4 kitchen cooking areas, swimming pool gigantic indoor outdoor complex with up to 8 flatmates all doing normal domestic activities in their own little separated parts of the mansion! What is “separated” – johnny can’t go into emily’s room because he’s a boy and she’s a girl; mary lou and jessie cook separately and use bathrooms AB while billy bob and frank and fred use bathrooms XYZ and livign room 4? Or a residential can be a tiny little place with a zillion family members : mom dad and 12 kids and two grannies and all the cuzzy bro’s in a 1 bedroom flat with an outhouse!
The key point is that what social or physical separations take place by mutual agreement under the broad umbrella of the people that are permitted in a residential unit is totally irrelevant to the definition of a single residential unit.
Think about it. How would you, on these definitions, get two residential units? in one physical builiding on one chunk of land that meets the minimum sizes .? You only get two residential units when you go beyond the density requirements: eg you have 9 unrelated people, or a family with more than 4 unassociated people….doing normal domestic activities. Compare Christchurch where as soon as you have two kitchens, no matter how many or how few people live eat work sleep there , you are deemed to have two residential dwellings.
Note there is NOTHING about ownership or continuous occupancy or normal resideny. Presumably people can come and go as often as they like ….as long as the number of people – and the types – don’t exceed the criteria in the definitions of a household unit a,b,c. When they do, a second residential unit is created! But not before.
WHat about external sleepoy style buildings?
There is a def and comment in the AKL Plan on accessory buildings – if you had a sleepout, or were converting a garage, or…some other form of accessory building you wouldn’t be able to jave a kitchen sink or a dishwasher….but thats it!! The preamble here is actually very informative about the Auckland philosophy here.
188.8.131.52 ACCESSORY BUILDINGS
The Plan provides for accessory buildings which are incidental to other buildings and permitted activities in the residential zones. Accessory buildings may include garages, carports, glasshouses, sleepouts, games rooms, spa pools, swimming pools or other similarly incidental uses. None of the residential zones have any specific development controls, such as additional size or height limits, for accessory buildings. Rather the same development controls apply to both accessory buildings and residential units. This allows people a considerable degree of flexibility in the arrangement and use of buildings on a residential property. (JF bold added)
The key characteristic of accessory buildings is their incidental nature. The Plan does not intend that they be used to provide self-contained residential accommodation. Rather the density rules of the Plan must be complied with. At times it can be difficult to determine whether a proposed building fits into the definition of ‘accessory building’. In determining whether a development is an accessory building, or a residential unit, or neither, the Council will have regard to the following matters:
1.The functions that the building performs, or is likely to perform given its design and internal layout;
2.The size and location of the building in relation to existing residential unit(s) on the site;
3.Whether the building provides, or is capable of providing, all the residential needs of one or more inhabitants.
Accessory Buildings are defined in Part13a (defintions)
Accessory Building in relation to any site, means a building the use of which is incidental to that of any other building or buildings on the site, and in relation to a site on which no building has been erected, is incidental to any permitted activity. “Buildings accessory to” shall have a corresponding meaning.
In a residential zone, an accessory building may include but is not limited to: a garage or carport; a workshop; a glasshouse; a sleepout (but not a residential unit); a recreation room; a spa pool or swimming pool. In a residential zone, an accessory building shall not include a kitchen sink or dishwashing facility.
My only hesitation in my interpretation here is that I have also heard, indirectly through some comments on the blogging I have done and that Eric has done, that (1) many city planners in Auckland are misinformed on the use of a single kitchen as an operational definition of a single residential unit and (2) if a single building is divided into some sort of “separate” groups of rooms ( i have no idea what “separate” means? unit title? legally? some sort of physical boundary like a wall?) then the one building would be deemed to constitue more than one residential unit…and so probably contravening the minimum land area density requirements in residential zones…as per the above table.
But I cannot for the life of me see this stated anywhere in the AKL district plan.