Surveying Services - The Degree of Difference

Subdivision appeal succeeds in Matamata-Piako

Published October 2013

After many hours of work and mediation facilitated by the Environment Court, local landowners have won the right to subdivision opportunities that were taken away by Council in the proposed review of the rural subdivision rules.

In what was probably an unnoticed move to many, Council had moved to virtually eliminate small farming blocks. The cause was taken up by local surveyors who, on behalf of the general public, saw this as an obstacle to innovation and economic growth in the district. We argued that the flexibility to subdivide and the size of the 'economic building blocks' that these new lots create needed to be reviewed.

Appealing this to the Environment Court was not an easy task but it was necessary to seek some balance, since Council had announced its decision that the minimum area was to be 40 hectares. This would not have catered for varying land use such as poultry and orchards, apparently focussing solely on large dairy operations.

The final outcome is that each lot that exists at the time the new rules become operative will qualify for a subdivision of one 8 hectare block as long as a balance lot can be at least 20 hectares in size. We see this as allowing people to generally do what they are doing at present. It is not uncommon for someone to subdivide a property and sell parts to each neighbour, perhaps retaining their house and some land. To do this they need some flexibility in the subdivision rules to avoid expensive 'non-complying' applications with no certainty of approval.

Another rule that was retained is the ability to subdivide a 'lifestyle' block from high quality land. This block is limited in size to 1 hectare in an effort to protect productivity and can only be subdivided off older titles where you are able to leave 40 hectares in the balance title.

On the lower 'general' quality land, larger lifestyle blocks can be created from smaller titles in a similar fashion, but are now limited to one lot. Lifestyle subdivisions on this land can be undertaken on titles that are in existence at the time these new rules are made operative rather than only on titles that pre-date November 1996 as is the case on the 'high quality' land.

Gone is the ability to subdivide multiple 8ha rural lots on any quality land, or multiple lifestyle lots on the general quality land.

If you are interested to find out how the changes may affect your plans, feel free to give me a call and discuss your particular situation.

By Brent Trail Managing Director

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Hauraki and Bay of Plenty.
For further information call 07 838 1571 or email

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