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Western Bay of Plenty Council releases a (glowing) opinion on Tiny Houses

This week, Policy Analyst Simon Stewart of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council (WBOPDC) released a white paper (written back in February) on Tiny House Villages... and its positive! You can read a copy of it here

Western Bay of Plentry District Council Tiny House Discussion Paper

"In a period of extreme housing unaffordability and increasing poverty because of it, Council should consider leading New Zealand in enabling Tiny House Villages in the Western Bay as one solution to affordable housing."

- WBOPDC Policy Analyst Simon Stewart. Tiny Houses discussion paper, executive summary, page 3.

This discussion paper came about thanks to a concerted effort by three BOP locals to establish a Tiny House Village in the Bay: Melissa Cox, Bobbie Cornell, and Tessa Mackenzie. They've held (extremely well attended) public meetings, met with councillors numerous times, and spent hours familiarising themselves with the many regulations in this space. The result of which is this well researched discussion paper.

Extremely well attended public meetings in Katikati and Mount Maunganui are evidence of the strong demand for affordable housing in the Western BOP.

29 June 2017 Katikati Advertiser article about the Tiny house themed Film night

- 29 June 2017 Katikati Advertiser article about the Tiny house themed Film night read the full article on page 8 here

15 June 2017 Katikati Advertiser article about the workshop Leo and Tara ran to build their dream tiny homes

- 15 June 2017 Katikati Advertiser article about the workshop Leo and Tara ran to build their dream tiny homes

Excerpt from the conclusions and recommendations section of the discussion paper:

"The main barrier to establishing a Tiny House village today is in planning permission. Only small housing developments (as low as 40m2 floor area) are enabled as medium density residential areas, whereas many Tiny Houses are less than 40m2, and the District Plan requires a minimum parent lot size of 1400m2. To develop a village outside of these rules would require consent as a discretionary or non-complying activity, which may not meet the objectives and policies of the District Plan and carries a high risk for refusal. Private Plan changes may enable such village however these are very expensive, which would compromise the affordability aspect of a Tiny House. Council may initiate a plan change on its own accord, although this will have resourcing implications on Council.

The use of Special Housing Areas (SHA) is less expensive and provides greater regulatory freedom for projects such as Tiny House villages, and is probably the best way forward to enable a larger Tiny House Village. However, given the niche market an unknown amount of actual demand for this living situation, it would be more appropriate to enable smaller villages within urban boundaries, likely via a district plan change.

Looking Ahead: The Best Way Forward

Council may wish to consider enabling Tiny House villages in an urban setting as one solution to increasing the supply of affordable housing in the Western Bay of Plenty. The easiest way to do this is as a change to the District Plan rules.

Given that a review of the Medium Density Housing rules is already part of the 2018 work programme, incorporating Tiny House villages into that review would not impact on Council’s resourcing. The emerging Tiny House market certainly doesn’t fit everyone’s lifestyle, however with their environmental benefits and as an alternative to affordable housing stock in an extreme housing crisis, they are likely to make a positive impact on our district - the only real barrier to acceptance is their unknown effect on the amenity of the surrounding area (neighbours). The future of Tiny House villages in New Zealand will very likely depend on the success of the first village. If Tiny House villages are to be enabled by Council it is imperative that the first village be successful on all counts, to ensure a positive perception of their cultural effects. As international examples have shown, it is essential that Council works together with village developers to gain public support and ensure a successful outcome."

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