Never Rely on Rule Changes (December 2015)

Never rely on subdivision rule changes - Waikato, Franklin and Thames-Coromandel take note

If you are lucky enough you may benefit from a change to the subdivision rules but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.  In general terms, when it comes to rural subdivision, Councils are trying to tighten up and keep properties large and, in their view, economical.

That doesn't mean that opportunities won't arise through changes but the real ones are those that already exist.  They are tried and true and, believe me, for most those opportunities won't survive the proposed changes. 

Currently major changes are under way for Thames-Coromandel (TCDC), Waikato (including the old Franklin part) and Auckland.  TCDC have completed their public hearings and are due to announce their decisions early next year.  Waikato has begun its review process and will be announcing its intentions during next year.

If you have been contemplating any subdivision or boundary adjustments in these areas you would be well advised to advance your plans now.  

TCDC earlier proposed to retain their main rural subdivision rule with a minimum average lot size of 20 hectares, however there were many submissions to the plan and the final rule might differ somewhat.  Likewise; the rule allowing conservation lots (based on the protection of bush and wetland) was proposed for major change, reducing chances for many and prompting submissions.  Council are still accepting applications based on the existing rules but that won't last much longer.

The old Franklin District subdivision rules were always going to change after redrawing the boundary between the new Auckland Super City and Waikato District but what is probably less expected is the further review of the Waikato Subdivision Rules that were only rewritten recently.  Waikato are reviewing the whole district again and will, no doubt, tighten things further.

Apart from subdividing conservation lots, the old Franklin area relies on transferable titles for much of the subdivision opportunity.  We believe that this method of subdivision is 'on the block' with this review so the message is perhaps use it or lose it.

How Council will find any common ground between the Franklin Plan and the Waikato Plan is anyone’s guess.  Waikato have a rule allowing a lifestyle block to be subdivided from an older title over 20 hectares in size but have signalled, in the past, a rise to a 40 hectare requirement.  Franklin have a rule that sets a minimum size for any rural lot at 40 hectares, where you are not purchasing a transferable entitlement.  

Whatever rules Council advance, they need consistency across the entire district and that will be a tall order since both regions have their history and individual issues.  Perhaps a different zoning will emerge for the highly productive horticultural land around Pukekohe.  Whatever way it goes nothing is more certain – opportunities will slip away and perhaps if you are really lucky something will come your way.

My advice to those who need to subdivide for some reason is to utilise the current rules in your particular area and don't hold out hope that things are going to get easier.  They won't necessarily.   

If you are interested to find out what opportunities might potentially be lost, feel free to give me a call and discuss your situation without delay. 

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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