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Future Development Strategy

Nelson and Tasman are growing fast and we continue to need more houses for people to live in, places for people to work and earn a living, and spaces for relaxation, exercise and community events.

Download the Consultation Document (168KB PDF)

Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council are working together to plan for and manage urban growth over the next 30 years.

future development strategy pagesThe Nelson Tasman Future Development Strategy will determine whether we keep growing our city and towns in the same way we have in the past, or if we take a different approach.

As well as planning for the extra homes and businesses our region will need, we must be aware that business needs are changing, new housing needs to be affordable, and the make-up of our communities will change over time.

This is an important conversation for our community, and we want to hear your views. Thank you for taking the opportunity to play a part in planning for the future of Nelson-Tasman.

Public feedback on high-level scenarios and ideas took place in early February 2019.  A second round of public consultation will commence in early April 2019.  The second round will seek feedback on more detailed future growth options.

What is a Future Development Strategy?

Councils with growing populations (like Nelson and Tasman) are required by central government under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity to:

  • assess how much demand there will be for housing and business over the next 30 years,
  • make sure there is enough land and development opportunities available to meet this expected demand, including a buffer of ‘spare capacity’ to meet unforeseen changes.

The Future Development Strategy will set out how and where we will accommodate housing and business growth across the region, with a focus on how the Nelson urban area (including Richmond) and other Tasman townships will grow.   

The Future Development Strategy is a great opportunity to ensure the growth of our city, towns and rural settlements is well-planned to maximise opportunities, avoid risks and hazards, and to create high-quality living environments.

The Future Development Strategy will input into the reviews of Nelson and Tasman’s planning rules, as well as expansion and upgrades of infrastructure such as roads, water supplies, sewerage reticulation and open spaces.  The strategy will be regularly reviewed.

The challenges

Currently, Nelson and Tasman jointly have around 50,000 dwellings.  To keep up with existing population growth trends we need to plan for between 10,000 and 20,000 new dwellings (Based on scenarios compiled using Council and Statistics NZ data) over the next 30 years. We also need to consider the possibility our population will grow faster than current forecasts – as has happened over the past decade.

Our analysis indicates that, overall, there is enough zoned residential land available to accommodate the next 10 years of growth.  Analysis also suggests there is enough business land to meet short- and long-term demands but this needs to be further tested. The Future Development Strategy aims to ensure both Councils provide sufficient zoned land and infrastructure to accommodate growth over the next 30 years.

The type of housing that people will need over that period is likely to change. Median house prices have increased substantially in Nelson-Tasman over the past 10 years, placing financial pressure on some households (whether renting or buying). Long term, if house prices are too high relative to incomes, then people may shift out of the area. The number of aged people will increase in the future, and their housing needs will be different.

We recognise housing affordability is an issue in Nelson and Tasman. Through the Future Development Strategy, both Councils are implementing their role in ensuring that supply of zoned land and infrastructure is not impacting housing affordability. Both Councils are actively investigating other tools and levers they can use to address this issue.

The Tasman situation

Tasman District has the capacity to accommodate all of Tasman’s expected future demand for residential growth within the areas already identified for rezoning and infrastructure servicing.  However, as priorities, opportunities and constraints change there may be a need to review where and how we grow. Tasman settlements have opportunities to intensify, and to avoid spreading onto productive land.  In some locations there are constraints posed by natural hazards.  There will also be a need for business land to support that growth.

The Nelson situation

Nelson City faces important choices in the long term as the ‘easy’ development opportunities currently available within the city’s boundaries are taken up over the next decade. It is estimated Nelson City will face a shortfall of zoned and serviced residential land for several thousand homes between 2028 and 2048 if no more land is provided.

If the homes were only accommodated through greenfields development, and with reasonably large sections, this could mean up to 250 hectares of rural land would need to be converted for housing. At the other end of the spectrum, those dwellings could be accommodated by intensification of 125 hectares of existing urban area if its housing density was doubled.  There are many options between these two ends of the spectrum.  There will also be a need for business land to support that growth.

The options

We need to think carefully about where new development should be located and how best to invest in the services and infrastructure needed to support our existing and future communities.

The Nelson and Tasman communities face some important choices.

Spread out?

Much of the flat, easier land to develop for housing is in Tasman District. Current trends suggest some of its larger populated areas such as Richmond, Mapua/Ruby Bay and Motueka will continue to expand outwards. But in some places, this could see land with high productive value change from horticulture to roads and housing. There is sea level rise to consider, as well as upgraded infrastructure to pay for.  Nelson City has some options to expand into the foothills on the eastern side of the city.


We could accommodate growth within existing urban areas through infill housing, new townhouses and terrace housing. This approach allows people to live near jobs, schools, community facilities, services and public transport. It will also lead to taller buildings, smaller properties and a more urban character overall. Existing infrastructure such as wastewater and stormwater systems and transport services would need to be upgraded.

Coastal living is attractive, but only if it is not affected by sea level rise or coastal erosion. Some rural residential areas in Tasman could be re-zoned for increased residential housing. Some existing urban areas may see more infill and redevelopment.

Start from scratch?

We could grow by creating new townships or suburbs, such as new or expanded neighbourhoods to the north of Nelson. Inland places in Tasman could expand into larger townships, rather than expanding existing urban areas.  Elevated Coastal Tasman areas could also be considered.  New townships need substantial infrastructure, including facilities such as schools and community halls, water infrastructure and much better transport and communication links back to main centres (for access to jobs and services). This requires a long term financial commitment from the councils.

Have your say

The first round of consultation on the Nelson Tasman Future Development Strategy is open from 23 January – 11 February 2019. Your input will help us draft a set of options for further consideration.

Some questions to consider for Nelson and Tasman:

  • Where should our growing population live and work?
  • How do we best manage the risk from known natural hazards?
  • Should we allow communities to grow through development on the flat productive farmland around existing settlements, or preserve it for productive purposes?
  • How will we manage, protect and improve the environment as we grow?
  • What kind of transport systems and infrastructure do we need to support our growing regions?
  • Are there more opportunities for growth and intensification around our main centres?
  • Should we focus development in our larger city, towns and suburbs? If so which ones?
  • Or should we focus development in our smaller townships? If so, which ones?
  • Should we establish new townships to absorb growth? If so, where?
  • Are there townships or locations where we should not grow. If so, where?
  • How should we respond to climate change effects? Such as sea level rise, coastal erosion and transport related CO2 production)
  • How do we encourage different housing styles and choices?

Submit feedback

Let us know what you think:


January/February 2019 Public feedback on high-level options
March 2019 Shortlisting options and analysis
April/May 2019 Public consultation on draft strategy
June 2019 Finalise the strategy following consultation

The Future Development Strategy is a very high-level document that will guide and inform the more detailed proposals and processes that will follow.