TCDC releases new subdivision rules
Published June 2016
The Thames-Coromandel District Council recently announced the decisions version of its new District Plan. This followed a period of five months receiving and processing submissions and another eight months of hearings by the District Plan Hearings Panel. Since advertising the intended changes, Council has received submissions from over 1,500 people and spent a total of 34 days hearing evidence from submitters.
In so far as subdivision is concerned, the submission process has seen little change to the rules originally proposed. Practically all rural subdivision, apart from boundary adjustments, is now either discretionary or restricted discretionary. This will see Council having more discretion throughout the process. In general, the more 'discretionary' the rule, the more 'control' Council can exercise in vetting your application.
Up until now, we have been able to lodge subdivision applications under the old rules, however now we will have to abide by the new District Plan. Any submitters that are unhappy with Council's decision can now appeal to the Environment Court over the coming months.
Council has retained the ability to subdivide rural land down to a minimum 20 hectare average lot size as a discretionary application - therefore some lifestyle lots can be created as small as half a hectare. This rule is effectively the only complying way to subdivide land in the rural zone unless it already has two existing fully consented dwellings on it, or contains a significant ecological feature (usually bush or wetland) worthy of protection. Other provisions allow more compact rural residential subdivision closer to the towns.
Protecting an ecological feature has been a common means of justifying a subdivision for some time now and this has resulted in many areas being protected. The new plan will restrict this type of subdivision in many areas that Council does not consider the ecological feature to be either of sufficient quality or to be threatened significantly.
They have set up priority areas for protection by covenants. Subject to the classification of the ecosystem on this priority map, certain minimum areas are required to be protected in order to qualify for a subdivision. The threshold ranges from 2ha up to 14ha depending on the significance of the feature.
If your property lies outside of these priority areas any subdivision proposed by you will be full discretionary and likely require either much larger areas or contain unique ecosystems. As such, more detailed supporting evidence from specialists will be required with the application. With a discretionary application there will always be more hoops that you have to jump through to get consent and it generally puts more of the cost up front.
If you have any plans for subdivision in the future I am happy to discuss the opportunities, so don't hesitate to give me a call.
By Brent Trail – Managing Director
Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.
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