Consents for new homes in Wellington city are the highest since the Global Financial Crisis.

Wellington City Council issued 1045 consents for new dwellings in 2018, which are for $425 million worth of residential properties.

But while consents are on the rise, so is demand, and the current pace isn't enough to meaningfully reduce the city's deficit of about 3,800 houses.

The city's District Plan has been described as "close to breaking point" in some places and needs to change.


Consents in 2018 were driven by an increase in apartments, specifically in the Te Aro area.

There were 377 consents in total granted for apartments. They spiked in June with a 228-unit apartment building on Dixon St approved.

Wellington City Council's $5000 rates remission scheme has been available to first-home buyers for about a year now.

It's for those buying a newly constructed home, an apartment off the plans or who are building their own home.

According to council records, there are currently 45 properties with the First Home Builders remission in place, with a further 49 applications to be considered for the next rating year.

"I'm really happy with that and it's almost 100 more that otherwise might not have chosen to live in Wellington", mayor Justin Lester said.

It's estimated Wellington's population could grow by up to 80,000 people by 2043, meaning the city would need 30,000 new homes.

The number one thing constraining housing development in Wellington is the lack of land, city council housing portfolio leader Brian Dawson said.


The District Plan needs to be made more flexible, he said.

"It's at a point now where it's bending but not quite breaking, but it's close to breaking point in places and we need to get those settings changed. It's based on old numbers and old assumptions; we can't live like that anymore."

Dawson said changes to the plan could include reducing car park requirements for new-builds outside of the central city.

Meanwhile in the CBD, it could include the ability for the council to mandate density levels.

"At the moment we've got a couple of projects that we know about in the Te Aro area which quite frankly are not going to be utilising the land as intensely as it needs to be if we're going to get to the number of houses we need for the future, and there's nothing the council can do about it under the current settings."

Wellingtonians have to be prepared for higher density housing, even if that meant changes in their own backyards, mayor Lester said.

"Everybody has to accept that we all live in a home, and that home is there because somebody built it.

"When that home was built, that had an impact on somebody who was already living adjacent to it, or it came at the expense of some green field space."

Wellington City's District Plan will be undergoing a full review as part of the Planning for Growth project.