Urban parking minimums banned by New Zealand's national government
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Brief summary of this reform
New Zealand's National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (NPS-UD) is banning local governments that administer "urban environments" (settlements with more than 10,000 people) from including minimum car parking requirements in their district plans. "Urban environments" include most of the country's suburban areas. These Tier 1, 2 and 3 councils have until 20 February 2022 to removed any minimum parking requirements. Only 'accessible carparks' can be required (parking for use by persons with a disability or with limited mobility).
Why should you care?
There is a growing trend for higher levels of government (national or state/province) to restrict the ability of local governments to enact excessive parking requirements. This is a striking example. This bans all but small settlements from enacting any parking minimums at all. Please note that this does not require local governments to impose parking maximums. They can't require parking but they do not have to restrict parking.
Key actor type
enable housing or other infill
The NPS-UD is administered by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), with support from Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga - Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. Local councils are required to act
Is it a model or a warning?
Main parking category
Main parking paradigm shift
Away from excessive supply AND towards more responsiveness to context/market
Adaptive Parking thrust
R: Relax about parking supply and stop boosting it
Goals of the reform
The overall goal of the NPS-UD is to "removes overly restrictive barriers to development to allow growth ‘up’ and ‘out’ in locations that have good access to existing services, public transport networks and infrastructure."
The purpose of the removal of parking minimums "is to enable more housing and commercial developments, particularly in higher density areas where people do not necessarily need to own or use a car to access jobs, services, or amenities. It will enable urban space to be used for higher value purposes other than car parking, and remove a significant cost for higher density developments. Developers may still choose to provide car parking in many areas, but the number of car parks will be driven by market demand." (NZ Ministry for the Environment, July 2020)
Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)
New Zealand has been facing severe housing price escalation and acute housing affordability problems in its major cities.
Detailed description of the reform
New Zealand's National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (NPS-UD) bans local governments in all Tier 1, 2 and 3 councils from including minimum car parking requirements in their district plans.
These Tier 1, 2 and 3 councils have until 20 February 2022 to removed any minimum parking requirements.
Only 'accessible carparks' can be required (parking for use by persons with a disability or with limited mobility).
Tier 1, 2 and 3 councils are those with jurisdiction over an “urban environment”, defined as an area that "(a) is, or is intended to be, predominantly urban in character; and (b) is, or is intended to be, part of a housing and labour market of at least 10,000 people”. Note that "urban environments" include most of the country's suburban areas.
Instead of using parking minimums, councils are instead urged to implement parking management to deal with parking supply and demand issues. On page 13 of the NPS-UD, Policy 11 states:
"In relation to car parking:
a) the district plans of tier 1, 2, and 3 territorial authorities do not set minimum car parking rate requirements, other than for accessible car parks; and
b) tier 1, 2, and 3 local authorities are strongly encouraged to manage effects associated with the supply and demand of car parking through comprehensive parking management plans. "
Backdoor parking minimums are also banned. On page 28:
"3.38 Car parking
If the district plan of a tier 1, 2, or 3 territorial authority contains objectives, policies,
rules, or assessment criteria that have the effect of requiring a minimum number of car
parks to be provided for a particular development, land use, or activity, the territorial
authority must change its district plan to remove that effect, other than in respect of
accessible car parks."
The NPS-UD also stops Tier 1 councils from setting building height limits of less than six storeys within walkable distances of existing and planned rapid transit stops, city centres and metropolitan centres.
Results or impacts
The deadline has not yet passed (writing in April 2021) so it is too soon to tell.
Sources and acknowledgements
New Zealand Ministry for the Environment (July 2020) National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 – car parking fact sheet,
New Zealand Ministry for the Environment (July 2020) National policy statement on urban development,
New Zealand Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (July 2020) National policy statement on urban development,
Matt L (July 27, 2020) Supercharging Urban Development,
Henry Cooke (Jul 23 2020) Government moves to end minimum carpark requirements and remove low height-limits in bid to increase dense housing, Stuff,
28 Apr 2021