Hamilton's tough new house rules

By Natalie Akoorie


A council has gone to extreme lengths to create safer neighbourhoods by preventing home owners from building garages ahead of the house, and forcing more living on to the front yard with little privacy.


But critics of the proposed new rule by Hamilton City Council say it is a flawed, money-making idea that effectively tells people how they should live.


Signature Homes managing director David Marcellus said the rule in the draft district plan, which is being implemented in several new suburbs, placed more restrictions on home owners and reduced their quality of living on the property.


"This is a bad deal for the public. It forces them to have spaces in the home on the property that may not be ideally suited for the sun.


Mr Marcellus predicted an increase in monotonous street fronts. "It's going to detract from some of the great designs and individuality we have now."


There were also pedestrian safety concerns. Because most sections were long and narrow, garages would have to face the street, causing drivers to reverse on to roads, and more cars would be parked on the street.


Or if garages were positioned at the back of the house it meant longer, more expensive driveways, a loss of living space at the rear and a loss of sun in the living areas.


He said that to make matters worse, fences at the front of the property could not exceed 1.2m high or had to be 50 per cent see-through at 1.8m high.


Mr Marcellus said his company alone had 100 plans which would not comply with the new rule and although he had not measured the cost to replace them, he estimated it could be as high as $100,000.


Several new builds which don't comply with the rule have been issued consents to continue with the garage fronting the house, but at a minimum cost of $1980 for resource consent.


Lugton's Real Estate managing director David Lugton called the proposed change "absolutely stupid" and said it would play havoc with the city's real estate.


"If it is strictly complied with, existing housing will have a greater value. Some houses, particularly with three-car garaging, will be rather unique and have a higher value than what they have now," Mr Lugton said.


Mr Lugton, who has developed 5000 sections during the past 20 years, said he was against the proposed new design because it would make houses and suburbs "all look the same, with plain fronts".


"It's going to limit home owners and builders in designing a house of their choice."


Hamilton architect Andrew Bydder said while the council's goals to reduce crime and promote more open streetscapes was admirable there were other priorities in achieving good design.


"Designing for the sun, creating safe, private play areas for children, in many situations these are more important than the crime prevention and street appeal," Mr Bydder said.


He said the "alleged benefits" of a set of principles known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design were controversial at best.


"Buildings don't force people to commit crimes."


Mr Bydder said the council could minimise accusations of money-grabbing by reducing the cost and time it would take to process a garage consent.


Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said the rules were aimed at safe, better streetscapes and improving neighbourhoods.


Hamilton style


*All garages recessed half a metre behind front edge of house


*Front door and window of one inhabitable room must face street


*Fence only 1.2m high or if 1.8m high must be 50 per cent see through


*Driveways and other hard surfacing in front of house can not exceed 50 per cent


*Plants must not obstruct visibility from street to house.

- Hamilton News

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