Surveying Services - The Degree of Difference

Subdivision Changes Worry Owners

Published October 2011

If you own rural land and subdivision is on your radar you might like to pay attention to what is happening around you right now. Many Councils are currently reviewing their subdivision rules.

Whether your purpose is to retire on your land with a separate title, sell some land to keep the bank happy or subdivide into lifestyle blocks where farming is uneconomical, it is set to become much harder.

Currently we are waiting for a decision from Waikato District Council on their proposal to reduce the number of lifestyle blocks around Hamilton, but the door is still ajar to those who have not seen this coming. Although announcing a proposed change earlier, Hauraki last week started a public hearing process that will see decisions out within the next few months.

Hauraki's changes are more severe for those on the plains, where Council propose to stop lifestyle blocks altogether and introduce a 40 hectare minimum lot size. "This is a radical jump from the existing 6 hectare minimum on good productive land," says Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services Ltd. "It will make diversification difficult and more expensive, requiring more rigorous resource consent applications".

Ironically, in the Environment Court, Western Bay District Council were recently forced to reduce their minimum size for productive blocks down to 6 hectares. In the Bay, lifestyle blocks are also allowed where you protect environmental features such as wetland, stream banks and bush.

Waipa District have been planning their response to increased pressure from regional councils - to reduce rural subdivision - for some time now and lot sizes are expected to be increased from the current 25 hectare minimum. Also, perhaps the rule allowing long term residents to subdivide a lifestyle block will disappear.

With Matamata-Piako and Thames-Coromandel Districts now embarking on their own changes, landowners there are now nervous that their plans will also be foiled unless they move in a hurry. We are starting to field more calls from people in these areas as Councils communicate their intentions.

"It's keeping us busy at a stage in the economic cycle that it would normally be quiet for us" says Brent. "Even though people are objecting to the often severe changes, they are not naive enough to think there won't be significant change - so they are acting now".

If subdivision is part of your future plans, it would be wise to immediately seek specific subdivision advice from a professional surveying company that is up to speed with all these proposed changes.

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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