Enviro Lots (March 2013)

Environmental protection for subdivision

Rather than clearing land and draining natural wetland to create more pasture, farmers are increasingly protecting these features for the benefit of the wider community and picking up subdivision benefits along the way. 

Thames-Coromandel is proposing to really open this up through its Proposed District Plan, where (in the draft document) there are no specified minimum sizes specified for these features to be protected.  It appears that they propose to allow subdivisions based solely on the ecological value of these features.  This means that you may only need a very small amount of wetland or bush in some cases. 

Western Bay, Franklin, Waikato, Waipa, Hauraki, South Waikato, Matamata-Piako, Whakatane and Opotiki Districts all now recognise the benefits of protecting these ecological features to some extent.  All their rules are similar but differing areas of feature are required to be set aside.  For example, in Western Bay, an area as small as half a hectare of restored wetland can be enough to justify the subdivision of an additional lot.  If you have a stream through or bordering your property with native vegetation adjoining it, there is a good chance that you can get a credit for a subdivision – you need 500m of stream with a 20m strip of vegetation along one side.  Then there is established forest or regenerating scrubland that also qualifies with various size limits of several hectares. 

Franklin has moved in its Proposed District Plan to require an area of one hectare of ecologically significant wetland or bush in order to qualify for a subdivision, from an earlier size of half a hectare.  As in Franklin District, in Thames-Coromandel the restoration of these features is encouraged where the land has earlier been drained and cleared for farming.  This is an excellent way to convert marginal land back into a natural ecosystem, picking up some financial gain along the way.  

It is great to see all Council's recognising the public benefit of retaining these environmentally significant features and giving the custodians of the land some financial reward to recognise their contribution to the ecology of the region.  Council's will often recognise historical, cultural and landscape features in a similar fashion.

If your land has a feature similar to those mentioned in this article and you want to subdivide your property don't hesitate to give me a call.  I am happy to discuss the situation with you to see if it is worth pursuing.

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


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theodolite - traditional land surveying equipment
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