Enviro Lots (October 2016)

Subdivision provides environmental benefits

Farmers have always been good at protecting land and now they are getting some recognition in terms of subdivision concessions, recognising that protection of ecological and cultural features provides a positive benefit for the wider community.

At a time when fewer subdivision opportunities exist, this is becoming a more common route to obtaining a new title.  When many rural Councils are restricting subdivision to forty hectare lots and pushing 'lifestyle' lots into enclaves with a more residential nature, this may be the only way for some to create truly 'rural' lots for sale or retirement.

Wetland areas and regenerating native bush are some of the most popular features with Councils.  Some even allow for protection of view shafts, cultural sites and even historical buildings.

To enable a subdivision, environmental features have to be fenced off and made free of weeds, with pests controlled.  A covenant has to be registered on the title as part of the process, committing all future owners to protecting the feature. 

Western Bay, Franklin (now partly in Waikato and Hauraki), Waikato, Thames-Coromandel, Waipa, Hauraki, South Waikato, Matamata-Piako, Whakatane and Opotiki District Plans all now recognise the benefits of protecting these 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  wetland can be enough to justify the subdivision of an additional lot.  If you have a waterway running through or bordering your property there is a good chance that you can get a credit for a subdivision – you need 250m of bank with a 20m strip of native vegetation, existing or planted, along both sides – or 500m on one side.  Established forest or regenerating scrubland also qualifies, with various size limits of several hectares as in other districts.

Rather than clearing land and draining natural wetland to create more pasture, as  was common in the past, farmers are increasingly enhancing and protecting these features for the benefit of the wider community and picking up subdivision credits along the way.  In some districts, such as the old Franklin District (which still operates under its own District Plan), Western Bay, and Waipa, the subdivision credits can be sold and transferred to another property in that district. 

It is great to see all Councils recognising the public benefit of retaining these environmentally significant features and giving the custodians of the land some financial reward in recognition for their contribution to the sustainability of the region. 

So, if your land has a feature similar to those mentioned in this article and you want to subdivide your property, I am happy to discuss the prospects with you.  Please feel free to give me a call and discuss your situation. 

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

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