Western Bay of Plenty District Council is contemplating tiny house villages as a potential option for affordable living.

The council voted last month to include tiny house villages as part of the District Plan review next year.

The tiny house component of the District Plan review will mainly focus on whether separate rules and standards should be developed specifically for tiny houses.

"Current rules in the District Plan allow for the development of minor dwellings in the residential zone as a controlled activity (which may include tiny houses), provided that they meet the definition of a minor dwelling and the rules pertaining to minor dwellings," a council spokesperson said.

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This process will involve discussions between the council and potential developers of a future tiny house village.

The council's decision comes after a group of tiny house owners led by Mount Maunganui's Melissa Cox, Bobbie Cornell and Tessa MacKenzie, presented to the council in May-June their idea of having a tiny house village in the district.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) stated that in June 2015, largely as a result of persistently low interest rates offsetting rising house prices, about 81.3 per cent of potential first home buyers nationally were placed below the National Affordability Benchmark.

In the Western Bay of Plenty district, the percentage is even higher, at around 83 per cent.
MBIE says housing affordability for potential first-home buyers remains the same since between June 2015 and March 2016 with an increase of 0.8 per cent.

In its tiny house report, the council says it is important to distinguish tiny housing from caravanning.

"In the regulatory context a campervan only needs to adhere to Council's Freedom Camping Bylaw, whereas a building needs to adhere to the rules of the District Plan and Building Code."

Under the District Plan, tiny houses are considered as minor dwellings, and must not exceed 60m2 gross floor area when built in a residential zone.

Council's plan to include tiny houses as medium density residential housing to allow higher density living with no minimum lot size providing it is close to a reserve area or services.

There are no tiny houses villages established in New Zealand but some similar small housing projects such as Seaforth Park at Waihi Beach. It contains 48 sites for stand-alone permanent cottages ranging from 170- 230m2 . Each cottage is leased however the buildings themselves are sold by Seaford Park.

During its discussion, the council said that the drawback of building a tiny house village would be its unknown amenity impact on neighbours.