Surveying Services - The Degree of Difference

Time Running Out for Rural Subdivision
Waikato and Hauraki Hardest Hit

Published October 2011

I'm continually surprised by the number of farmers that don't realise how their ownership flexibility is being eroded by the removal of existing subdivision rights. It seems that many are too busy to absorb the proposed changes and take the action necessary to protect their position.

When it comes to crunch time in respect to retirement, debt reduction or diversification the opportunities for subdivision could be long gone. Over the years Councils have allowed a reasonable amount of subdivision, providing the opportunity for farmers to retire on the land or purchase small run-offs to expand their operation. Those options are disappearing fast.

Recent hearings at Waikato District Council have considered a proposal to significantly reduce the number of lifestyle blocks able to be subdivided. There is still time to make application if you haven't moved yet and did plan to subdivide - but don't waste any time! In the future it will only be those with larger blocks that will be able to take off a block.

In an arguably more significant move, Hauraki are promoting a virtual ban on lifestyle blocks on the plains. The minimum block size is proposed to be 40 hectares - up from the current 6 hectare minimum. That is a huge jump, and perhaps unnecessary when there were not many actually taking advantage of the 6 hectare minimum. It is interesting to note that Western Bay of Plenty District Council has just introduced a 6 hectare minimum for 'productive land'. If implemented elsewhere this would provide opportunities for diversification on the better land.

Currently many of the rural District Councils in the region are working through a review of subdivision rules. Along with Hauraki and Waikato; Otorohanga, and Western Bay of Plenty are part way through the legal process. Waipa is due to announce major changes soon. Other Districts including Thames-Coromandel, South Waikato, Rotorua and Matamata-Piako have all signalled their intention to review their rules and will embark on the legal process in the months ahead.

In most areas rural subdivision will be harder to achieve in the future, so if you have plans you should act sooner rather than later. We only need to secure a Resource Consent now under the existing rules and the balance of the work can be spread over the next eight years. This secures the opportunity and delays most of the costs until you need the titles.

There is little time left to apply for subdivision under the old rules. If you are wondering how the changes may affect you I am happy to discuss it, so 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 and Bay of Plenty. For further information call 07 578 2500 or email

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