Flexible Boundaries (March 2016)

Flexible farm boundaries needed 

When juggling the challenges thrown at us these days we could really do with flexible boundaries.  Global issues affecting exchange rates, commodity prices, interest rates and even the weather make farming a continuing challenge.  Depending on the market conditions you've either got too much land or not enough – right?  At the same time it's getting harder to change the size of your farm without relocating completely.

In the good old days, prior to the Resource Management Act and regular District Plan changes, subdivisions to carry out boundary adjustments with your neighbour were generally allowed and obtaining consent was even quite straight forward.

In more recent times Councils have exercised more control and adopted much stricter rules around boundary adjustments to the extent that they often now require a discretionary subdivision application.  Those that know the RMA will understand that this can be a much more complex route to approval.  With enough effort, approval can be gained in many circumstances, however Council can decline the application at their discretion and at the very least such an application demands much more information.

We recently handled an application to exchange an area of 10 hectares between two  60 hectare farms and even this was discretionary!  All we were doing was enabling a dairy farmer to sell some of his land to a thriving goat farmer next door.  Still in grass, still producing milk -  but a different owner in a very different economic cycle.  I have to wonder, as these farmers are able to lease each other land, does the actual line on a plan have much significance?

Now that the rules have tightened up – with a 40ha minimum lot size in some districts – the benefit of holding several titles in the farm really comes into its own.  These titles can be readily traded without the need for Council consent  - a major reason why we encourage people to subdivide when they can, and hold on to the titles.

For years smaller blocks were allowed to be surveyed and these have always been the building blocks of our rural economy, enabling people to trade up and down as the economy and farming fashions dictate.

Today, if you or your neighbour don't have a number of titles in hand, you might have to go through the hoops to adjust your boundaries, but that's where we can help.  If you need to sell some land and have a progressive goat farmer next door it might be a good time to talk over the fence too.

If you wish to clarify any subdivision or boundary adjustment issues feel free 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 Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Coromandel.  For further information call 0800 268 632 or email


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