What is MDH?



Regional rules & guides



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Some local authorities have additional rules and controls in place to maintain the sense of history and place.

These areas have been designated as having valuable character or heritage.

A range of different natural and created features can contribute to the character of an area, including landscapes, natural formations, established vegetation, distinctive buildings, skylines, views and local culture. Medium-density housing developments should fit sensitively into the existing urban setting and scale, but there may be additional restrictions when building in these special character areas.

In these cases, it is particularly important for MDH developments to identify and preserve these characteristics. They should be designed to be sensitive to and compatible with the character of the area and the objectives of the rules that aim to preserve them. The rules for special character areas don’t usually stipulate an architectural style – both traditional or contemporary may be acceptable – and the requirements are not there to stifle innovation and modernisation. They are simply about preserving character.

When designing for a special character area, try to:

  • express the scale, proportion and form of the surroundings
  • follow existing design rhythms and arrangements
  • use colours that complement the surroundings
  • use materials and construction methods that suit the surroundings
  • interpret and derive detailing design from the traditional architecture of the area.
Med dens draft 2

Preserving character can be as simple as maintaining a sense of proportion within a contemporary design. (Adapted from Building multi-unit housing (In Living 3 zones) An Urban Design Guide for Christchurch, Christchurch City Council, 2014)