Subdivision in New Zealand is governed by the Resource Management Act (RMA) and many council district plans, which are formulated under this legislation. Even though the RMA controls subdivisions, the council rules in every locality are different. This is largely due to past and present political influence and the unique natural resources of that district.
One big consideration of district councils is protecting the ability of highly productive soils to support agricultural production for future generations. For this reason, you will see some councils restricting rural subdivision blocks to a minimum section size of 40 hectares. This is an area that was considered a minimum for a productive dairy unit many years back but is still being used today.
Some councils use a ‘one size fits all’ approach to this minimum size. However, others will allow a limited number of smaller farm blocks and rural lifestyle blocks to be subdivided off farms. Examples of this are currently found in the Waikato, South Waikato and Matamata-Piako Districts, where some qualifying older titles are allowed to subdivide one or more small blocks off.
In other rural areas, the council splits their district into zones with different development rules. They may create zones such as rural, lifestyle or rural residential with differing minimum section sizes and compliance rules.
Once it is clear that your farm qualifies for a subdivision based on size, it is time to carry out a detailed analysis against the rules. These rules are written to provide protection and control for both the owner and Council. Each new section must have a stable building site that is free from flooding or slipping. These building sites are required to be located a certain distance from the boundary with adjoining properties and any intensive land uses such as poultry or pig farms.
The road access to all new sections is critically assessed by council engineers to confirm public safety. The required separation distance of access crossings from the corners and other visibility constraints varies relative to the operating speed on that road.
Beyond these aspects are a host of rules relating to servicing the new section with connections to the electricity network, managing stormwater on-site, and treatment and disposal of wastewater.
At the end of the day, you want a section that you can sell to another person with a clear conscience, knowing that they can build their dream home without having to worry about any possible contamination of the site, instability of the building platform or unexpected effects from neighbours.
You can be confident when dealing with a specialist subdivision company that all these aspects and more will be analysed before any application is put before your local council for approval.
If you have an idea that subdivision is a possibility for you, due to activity in your area or have had a good steer from Council, contact us to discuss the full potential for your land with one of our specialists.