Managing urban growth

Wellington is dominated by its natural landscape - its harbour and hills - in a way that very few other cities are. It has a vibrant central city, and it's relatively easy to move about in.

The Council's approach to managing growth aims to keep and enhance Wellington's distinctive qualities - to sustain a city that is compact, liveable, sustainable, prosperous, and has a strong 'sense of place'.



Wellington Urban Growth Plan 2014-43 (8.1MB PDF)



Wellington Urban Growth Plan Implementation Plan (1.7MB PDF)

Wellington Urban Growth Plan

Our strategy to manage an expected population growth of around 50,000 people over the next 30 years.

Wellington City’s population is expected to grow by around 50,000 people and 22,000 new homes over the next 30 years. The Urban Growth Plan is our strategy to manage this growth sustainably and integrate our transport planning. To do this, we will ensure new houses, our transport networks, infrastructure and services are provided where needed.

The guiding principles behind the plan are we want to:

  • keep our city compact, walkable and supported by an efficient transport network
  • maintain the features that support our high quality of life
  • protect the city’s natural setting and reduce the environmental impacts of development and transport
  • make the city more resilient to natural hazards, such as earthquakes, and the effects of climate change.

Our strategy is to direct urban growth where it will benefit the city most and is supported by a quality transport network:

  • along the ‘growth spine’, between Johnsonville and the airport
  • around the central city
  • around selected suburban centres which can support intensification
  • in ‘greenfield’ areas, north of the city, at Lincolnshire Farm and Stebbings Valley.

Urban growth will be supported by investment in public transport, cycling and other transport networks. It will also involve investment in town centres, open spaces, community facilities and other infrastructure.

To put the Urban Growth Plan into action, an Implementation Plan has been developed. This identifies the priority projects for the next 10 years, including:

  • quick wins which are ready for implementation – Victoria Street precinct, Lombard Lane and north Lambton Quay
  • ongoing programmes spanning the whole 10 years of the Long-term Plan – cycle network improvements, bus priority measures, support for the earthquake strengthening of heritage buildings and city laneway improvements
  • short-term projects which can be delivered or should be started in the first 3 years of the Long-term Plan – north Kumutoto sites 8 and 10, Shelly Bay redevelopment, Watts Peninsula reserve, Te Aro regeneration, Special Housing Areas, new medium-density residential areas
  • medium-term projects which require further planning or development and are recommended for the later years of the Long-term Plan – Adelaide Road, Cambridge and Kent terraces, Petone to Grenada link road, Northern Growth Area link roads, inner city Roads of National Significance and Aro Street improvements. 

Housing choice and supply

We need to make sure there is enough housing for the population growth we expect. We also want to make sure that the type of houses we're building suit the city's changing demographics. We expect new housing to be of a good quality and in the right locations identified for growth. Medium-density housing gives us an opportunity to provide some of the additional homes we need.

The Council is investigating a number of areas where medium-density housing might be considered around some of our suburban town centres.

Place-based planning projects

The Council has completed several 'place-based' plans and projects to plan for the long-term growth and change of key centres. Information is available on the following projects:

Managing growth in our suburbs

During 2006/08 a review of the Council's approach to managing infill housing was completed. This work led to the Council adopting a more targeted approach to infill housing - encouraging infill housing in areas best suited for more intensive living, and protecting areas with significant character values.

This work also informed the review of the Suburban Centre and Residential chapters of the District Plan (Plan Changes 72 and 73). The changes to the District Plan (which are now operative) support more intensive mixed-use areas in the city's suburban centres, and provide for more intensive residential living in key 'growth spine' nodes, for example Johnsonville and Kilbirnie.