Environment Court Decision Waikato (March 2014)

Appeal to subdivision rules turns the table

Following the settlement of an appeal to the Environment Court, it is now much tougher to subdivide a lifestyle block. 

In an interesting turn of events the Waikato District Council was forced to increase the parent lot size to 20ha in order to settle the appeal by the Waikato Regional Council.  Council had proposed  allowing one lifestyle block to be cut off a qualifying property that was at least 6ha. 

Whilst many protested and asked Council to return to two lifestyle blocks per title, Regional Council took another view.  They appealed Council's Decision, requesting a much larger parent block, and they won the day.

This is an example of what can pop out of a District Plan Review, following the public process.  It was a rule that neither existed previously nor was proposed by Council.  And this is the reason that I encourage all interested citizens to get involved in these District Plan changes. 

I believe that this rule will have a limited life -  the writing is on the wall for lifestyle lots to disappear completely around Hamilton.  Soon you will need to start with 40ha, if you are allowed at all. 

Those that were involved in this process could see this coming and would have been foolish to not take action.  An example of this is an application that we made.  The original property was 7ha in size and we obtained approval for one small lot containing the existing house and a balance lot with an area of 5.4 ha.  This scenario is now non-complying and, in my view, would no longer receive approval.  Now we have the Resource Consent, we are applying to change the relative size of those lots in accordance with a change to the minimum lot size that was agreed at mediation.

The round of District Plan reviews that we have seen is now drawing to a close with submissions closing on the Thames-Coromandel Plan on 14 March.  So if you have any interest in land subdivision, development of land or building in that district you should have a look at the Proposed District Plan.  If there are aspects that you object to, put in a submission... but equally if you do like what you see put in a submission in support.  That way you will at least be informed and in a position to take the required action.

Waipa Distinct have proposed major changes to their rural subdivision rules, restricting the number and size of subdivisions also.  They have just completed a marathon of submission hearings and advised that their Decision will be released on 30 May.  So there is still time to apply for subdivision consent if you are affected by those proposals.

If you have any plans for subdivision in the future or wish to lodge a submission and require advice I am happy to discuss the opportunities, so don't hesitate to give me a call.  

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Coromandel, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty.  For further information call 0800 268 632 or email


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