Site Use

Considering how a building and site impact on each other, enhancing energy efficiency, comfort and convenience.

Garages and driveways

Garages, driveways and off-street parking should be located to maximise safety and convenience and minimise the visual and physical impacts on the site. The garage should be on the southern side of the house wherever possible, allowing the living areas of the house to benefit from solar gain.

On this page:

  • Planning requirements
  • Safety and site impacts.

Planning requirements

Most District Plans require the provision of some off-street parking for vehicles, regardless of zoning. Each district has rules regarding the number of driveways, width of access at street frontage, distance from intersections and maximum permissible gradients. Check off-street parking requirements at the preliminary design stage of a building project.

If a garage is located on the street frontage, it may require resource consent. This may include a requirement for landscaping along the road front boundary to minimise the impact on the streetscape. Whether or not resource consent is required, planting should be used to screen and soften the visual impact of the garage.

Safety and site impacts

Garages and driveways can have considerable site impacts. A garage too close to the street boundary can dominate the streetscape.

But locating a garage near the rear of the section will require a longer driveway, which has various impacts including:

  • removal of vegetation
  • increased stormwater runoff
  • increased risk to safety.

A garage may be set back approximately 6 m from the street boundary so that its visual impact from the street is reduced and additional space for car parking is provided in front of the garage.

Garages may be attached to the house or constructed separately. If attached to the house, internal or undercover access can also be provided.

With any new garage, make provision for the charging of electric vehicles, now or in the future. The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment has estimated that by 2050, electric vehicles will make up between 44 percent and 74 percent of the light vehicle fleet. Determine the location (or potential location) of the charger and consider access, electrical load capacity and safety issues.

Access to the site will be determined by the garage or car parking location and the shape and topography of the site.

Generally, driveways should:

  • have a single vehicle access point to minimise the impact on the site
  • be kept as short as possible to minimise the impact on the site or planting this may not be possible on steep sites where the shape and location of the driveway may be determined by the maximum permitted gradient
  • be located away from bedrooms and living areas to minimise noise
  • be away from and if possible fenced off from outdoor living and play areas
  • be made from a permeable material that allows rainwater to drain naturally through the material into the earth. There are numerous options available suitable for driveways. This is particularly important where local authorities require stormwater to be dealt with on site.

Where pedestrian and vehicle access is shared, provide safe pedestrian access by clearly defining a footpath and using a kerb to clarify the separation if possible.


Updated: 21 August 2023