Surveying Services - The Degree of Difference



TCDC Review Subdivision Rules

Published May 2011

The Thames-Coromandel District Council say that they are well under way with a review of their District Plan. This document contains the rules that constrain subdivision of land throughout the District.

Although there is a lot of 'consultation' yet to happen, I believe that the outcome will make subdivision more complex and costly. We see this in other areas that have already adopted changes. More and more professional reporting on environmental and landscape issues is required.

At present the rules are rather easy to understand with a rural subdivision needing an average lot size of 20 hectares. That means that as long as you have a total of 40 hectares in the original block then you can subdivide into two lots. One block could be a small lifestyle block with the balance being a farming block. This provides for flexibility in design and a variety of lot sizes to meet demand.

Council have published a 'Direction Setting Document' that outlines the considerations for their review. Reading that on their website suggests that if you are subdividing in the future you will have to give greater consideration to natural landscape and ecological features - they call them Significant Natural Areas or SNAs. Currently, in addition to the 20ha average lot size rule, you can subdivide if you permanently protect 5ha of natural ecological/cultural feature, but this size limit rules out sensitive wetlands and water boundaries. It appears that this rule may have focused too much on bush. I'm picking that the new rules will focus more on lowland forest and wetlands of which 82% are located on private land and generally in need of restoration, according to Council.

Given that such wetland is environmentally highly valued we would expect some subdivision concessions to be given to owners who are prepared to enhance and permanently protect these areas along with the banks of streams in the district. For example, in the Western Bay of Plenty District, the protection of an area of 5000 square metres (about 1 acre) of wetland or 500 metres of stream bank generates an ability to subdivide a lifestyle block.

When the documents are available you will have to be vigilant in checking what SNAs are registered on your property. Their significance may be debatable with Council but be aware - they also may offer you some potential for development that you otherwise wouldn't have had. Currently 59% of the District land is classified a significant natural area.

For specific advice on your property's current subdivision potential or future prospects you should immediately contact a professional surveying company very familiar with the evolving subdivision rules.

By Brent Trail Managing Director

For further information call 07 578 2500 or email btrail@surveyingservices.co.nz


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