Can I subdivide my farm in The Coromandel (April 2020)

Can I subdivide my farm in The Coromandel - TCDC District.

After a nine-year process, the Environment Court has ruled how Rural Subdivision is to continue in the Thames-Coromandel District. The Proposed District Plan was initiated in March 2011, notified for public submissions in late 2013 and Council’s final decision was released in April 2016. Since then it has been under appeal.

Many people objected to Council’s decisions, resulting in several appeals to The Court.  These were heard over the subsequent four years.  Following some stringent Council proposals and some very strong argument against, we are now pretty well back to where we started on subdivision.  In fact, the rules even hold more opportunities for many.   

The Court ruled that the boundary adjustment provisions contained in the previous rules will carry on, removing Council’s proposed limit to the amount of land that could be exchanged.  This eliminates significant uncertainty for many.

Another rule reinstated by The Court permits an average block size of 20 hectares for a rural subdivision.  That rule has been used for many years under the old Plan.   

Given the potential for protection of the vast tracts of forest throughout the Peninsular, the most significant change from Council’s proposal is the reintroduction of rural conservation lot subdivisions across the entire District.  Council’s proposal allowed these subdivisions only in certain priority areas.  I believe that the final outcome is significantly better than either the old rules or Council’s initial proposed change.  It is much fairer to all landowners and encourages rehabilitation, rather than just maintaining the quality ecological features.

Whilst there is a requirement for increased areas of lowland forest to be protected in order to qualify for subdivision compared to past rules, this is balanced by reduced areas of other forest as well as the introduction of some additional categories.  The development of this rule has seen significant input by some of New Zealand’s leading ecologists to create, what I consider, rules that could be beneficially adopted nationwide.

Features qualifying for protection to create a subdivision now include wetland and duneland (half hectare minimum), floodplain forest (one hectare minimum), coastal forest (five hectare minimum), coastal escarpment forest (two hectare minimum) and lowland forest (ten hectare minimum).  Larger areas of protection are needed in order to subdivide multiple lots and there is a limit of two new lots in the Coastal Zone, with four in other rural areas.

As predicted, the Environment Court’s final rules bear little resemblance to those proposed by Council.  After a wait of nine years, we now have a concrete set of rules to work with.

In addition to the subdivision requirements mentioned here, there are a host of other considerations in presenting a compelling subdivision application to Council.  If you have any plans for subdivision in the future and want to make the most out of your land, please feel free to call me for a quick chat first.  

BrentTrail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Hauraki, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.  For further information call 027 499 3778 or email

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