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August 29

Infill Housing : Maximising Opportunities

Developing a section for infill housing is a complex but rewarding process, writes Fraser Thomas Survey Director, Gary Blyth.

Infill housing has been occurring within New Zealand since the 1970’s where additional dwellings have been constructed onto an existing residential site.

To achieve separate legal ownership of the infill housing, subdivisions have been completed either by cross-lease, unit title or freehold tenure, using the services of qualified planners, surveyors and engineers.  To enable the necessary certifications to be completed and for land transfer survey to be completed, the professionals need to be suitably qualified as either Chartered Professional Engineers or as Licensed Cadastral Surveyors.

As with any project, the first step is to complete due-diligence.  Infill housing is no different and is particularly important, as each property is unique. 

The second step is to engage a suitably qualified planning, surveying and engineering team who have the necessary expertise in the field.

The first checks that will be completed will be to review the Record of Title, to assess if there are any impediments to further development of the property.  These may include a land covenant, that may restrict the site to one dwelling or a consent notice from a Local Authority, that may impose a restriction on the site in terms of additional development.

The stage of the assessment would be to check the zoning and planning controls that are particular to the site.  These will be set out in the Local Authorities District or Unitary Plan.  District Plan controls relating to infill development may be either density controlled or design controlled, or a mixture of both.

For example, the Auckland Unitary Plan has moved to design based controls for the larger areas of residential zoned land.  The design controls allow infill houses to be approved, in some cases, as permitted activities for up to three dwellings where the controls have been met.  Controls would include items such as building site coverage, yards, maximum height or height in relation to boundary, as examples.

Following confirmation that the site can accommodate infill housing, based on the zoning and development controls, the next item to be ticked off is issues related to the site-related features and infrastructure.  Site-related features may include a site which is subject to flooding, instability or possible soil contamination.  The more common of these would be flooding, and may require the completion of a Flood Report to assess possible flooding impact to the site, in order to accommodate any additional dwellings.

Infrastructure assessments will include an assessment as to whether any additional dwellings can be adequately serviced for wastewater, stormwater and water supply.  This assessment will require the professional to review Council’s records and assess what, if any, extensions to services that may be required.  Capacity of existing public reticulated systems will also need to be reviewed. 

Only following completion of a full feasibility of a particular site, by a professional with the necessary experience in infill housing and land development, will the development potential of the site be reliably known.

Then the fun stuff starts, with looking at what can be designed to fit within the existing site constraints.  Your land development professional will work with your nominated Housing Company or Architectural Designer to assess what can be accommodated on the site.  The planning controls of the District or Unitary Plan will largely dictate the design controls.

Once a Concept Layout has been completed, a budget costing for the full development can be put together which will enable the developer to assess the economics of the project.

These details are usually required by any lending agency that you may be working with to fund the project.

Many of the Local Authorities District and Unitary Plans have relaxed their controls, to allow higher intensity development to occur within our urban centres.  So now is the time to be looking at realizing the value in your existing property or purchasing to develop.

When considering any infill development of a property or the purchase of a property for intended development it is critical that you engage appropriately qualified and experienced professionals (surveyors and engineers) to ensure your development will be a success.

Infill housing has been occurring within New Zealand since the 1970’s where additional dwellings have been constructed onto an existing residential site.

To achieve separate legal ownership of the infill housing, subdivisions have been completed either by cross-lease, unit title or freehold tenure, using the services of qualified planners, surveyors and engineers.  To enable the necessary certifications to be completed and for land transfer survey to be completed, the professionals need to be suitably qualified as either Chartered Professional Engineers or as Licensed Cadastral Surveyors.

As with any project, the first step is to complete due-diligence.  Infill housing is no different and is particularly important, as each property is unique. 

The second step is to engage a suitably qualified planning, surveying and engineering team who have the necessary expertise in the field.

The first checks that will be completed will be to review the Record of Title, to assess if there are any impediments to further development of the property.  These may include a land covenant, that may restrict the site to one dwelling or a consent notice from a Local Authority, that may impose a restriction on the site in terms of additional development.

The stage of the assessment would be to check the zoning and planning controls that are particular to the site.  These will be set out in the Local Authorities District or Unitary Plan.  District Plan controls relating to infill development may be either density controlled or design controlled, or a mixture of both.

For example, the Auckland Unitary Plan has moved to design based controls for the larger areas of residential zoned land.  The design controls allow infill houses to be approved, in some cases, as permitted activities for up to three dwellings where the controls have been met.  Controls would include items such as building site coverage, yards, maximum height or height in relation to boundary, as examples.

Following confirmation that the site can accommodate infill housing, based on the zoning and development controls, the next item to be ticked off is issues related to the site-related features and infrastructure.  Site-related features may include a site which is subject to flooding, instability or possible soil contamination.  The more common of these would be flooding, and may require the completion of a Flood Report to assess possible flooding impact to the site, in order to accommodate any additional dwellings.

Infrastructure assessments will include an assessment as to whether any additional dwellings can be adequately serviced for wastewater, stormwater and water supply.  This assessment will require the professional to review Council’s records and assess what, if any, extensions to services that may be required.  Capacity of existing public reticulated systems will also need to be reviewed. 

Only following completion of a full feasibility of a particular site, by a professional with the necessary experience in infill housing and land development, will the development potential of the site be reliably known.

Then the fun stuff starts, with looking at what can be designed to fit within the existing site constraints.  Your land development professional will work with your nominated Housing Company or Architectural Designer to assess what can be accommodated on the site.  The planning controls of the District or Unitary Plan will largely dictate the design controls.

Once a Concept Layout has been completed, a budget costing for the full development can be put together which will enable the developer to assess the economics of the project.

These details are usually required by any lending agency that you may be working with to fund the project.

Many of the Local Authorities District and Unitary Plans have relaxed their controls, to allow higher intensity development to occur within our urban centres.  So now is the time to be looking at realizing the value in your existing property or purchasing to develop.

When considering any infill development of a property or the purchase of a property for intended development it is critical that you engage appropriately qualified and experienced professionals (surveyors and engineers) to ensure your development will be a success.

Mason can be contacted on 03 358 5936.