by Geoffrey Churchman

This 800 square metre lot for sale on on Waikanae Main Road must be a prime candidate for a developer to build a high-rise apartment block on — the KCDC District Plan now says it could be 10 storeys high. There would be no room for off-street parking, although a basement carpark could be incorporated. How would locals feel? Commercial neighbours probably would be OK with it, but anyone across the railway line who suddenly found their view of Kapiti Island blocked would be upset.


The major item on the last council meeting agenda was the District Plan Change giving effect to the controversial Urban Housing Density Intensifcation requirements made by this government in 2021. As can be seen, it incorporates a sizeable dollop of this government’s He Puapua ideology.

Listening to it was a more frustrating experience than usual, A): because of the complexities involved, and B): the mayor’s constant need to consult with staff on technical requirements, resulting in several stop/starts to the webcast.

As can be seen in the Summary clause 3 above, Kapiti is considered a ‘Tier 1’ local authority by the central government bureaucrats meaning it is treated the same as a major city, even though that is a highly questionable designation.

The general effect has been to permit — in various areas as shown on the maps below — 3, 4, 6, 10 and 15 storey buildings. In most cases these heights are increases above what was contained in the notified plan changes from last year.

So in theory, if developers wanted to do so, existing structures could be bought up, demolished and rebuilt to these heights in the areas shown.

The Waikanae Beach local centre — roughly centred on the Te Moana Road/Ono Street/Waimea Road intersection — allows 14-metre [46 ft] high buildings.

The new District Plan situation for permitted development in Waikanae

The new District Plan situation for permitted development in Paraparaumu

Note that neither Tamati Place nor Iwi Kingi Place shown on this map was developed except for an entrance off Barrett Drive.

The five councilors who voted against the whole thing were Wilson, Koefod, Cooper, Halliday, Prvanov. But the other 5 plus the Mayor supported it all.

Even if the the vote against the whole report had been carried, the Minister of the Environment has the final say, so it’s unlikely that the objections to the Commissioners’ Recommendations would have been upheld.

There is a bit of good news for Waikanae in that the undeveloped (approximately) half of the Kārewarewa Urupā (Urupa = burial ground) near the Waimanu Lagoons (see map of the whole area claimed by the Ngati Awa ki Whakarongotai iwi to be wahi tapu, above) will now be protected as such from any further development. See Chris Turver’s submission supporting this here.

What can happen in practice? Just because the rules say property businesspeople can do these things, doesn’t mean they will be able to in many places as there are other procedures and stipulations that have to be followed, and if locals don’t like what council planners decide to allow there is always the option of seeking a judicial review — I’m told this is happening with the (largely) vacant lot at 240 Kapiti Road, the planned development on which locals are hostile to.

Property businesspeople will be aware that creating a banlieue with slum high rises as you often see in European cities, even smaller towns, won’t be good for property values and they may take the view that luxury condominiums of three storeys — four storeys max — are what would suit the area instead. Let us hope.

In addition to that aspect, there could be a change of government in October and the ACT Party have made clear their opposition to what the present government has done; National has also walked back its original cross-partisan support for the changes.