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Rural Subdivision Matamata Piako (Feb 2020)

Rural Subdivision retained for now in Matamata-Piako

The only certain thing is there will be change.

It has been about seven years since the subdivision rules were rewritten in the Matamata-Piako District.  The final rules were settled after a public consultation period and a lengthy appeal to the Environment Court.  We are mindful that, with a 10-year review period, this process will start again before too long - so be aware.

In recent years many councils in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty have moved to severely restrict smaller rural and lifestyle blocks.  Most now have a minimum rural block size of 40 hectares.  This is driven largely by Waikato Regional Council, who are pushing to limit lifestyle blocks under the current Waikato District Plan review.

If these overtures are successful, most applications for lifestyle blocks will become non-complying in that district and others.  This doesn't mean that they are prohibited but, with the process being much more complex and very costly – including neighbour’s consent requirements, my advice is generally to not bother with this process.

But for a successful appeal to the Courts last time around, challenging this approach, those landowners in the Matamata-Piako District would have faced similar restrictions.  The blanket 40-hectare approach would not have catered for varying land use such as poultry and orchards, apparently focussing solely on large scale dairy operations.  Matamata-Piako instead took a ‘land quality’ approach, allowing properties with ‘general quality’ land to subdivide down to a 20-hectare size, whereas ‘high quality’ land requires 40-hectares in general. 

In addition to this, each title that existed on 4 December 2013 will qualify for an application to subdivide one block of 8-hectares or more, provided a balance lot can be left of at least 20 hectares in size.  We see this as providing an opportunity for those people that haven’t already subdivided, to sever a small rural lot from their farm, providing an opportunity for diversification or family settlement. 

It is not uncommon for someone to subdivide a property and sell parts to each neighbour, perhaps retaining their house and some land – possibly for retirement.  This rule often allows them the flexibility to do this, avoiding expensive 'non-complying' applications that have no certainty of approval.

Another rule that was retained is the ability to apply to cut a 'lifestyle' block off the farm.  This block is limited in size to either one or two hectares, depending on the quality of land and title date.  The balance area must be either 20 or 40 hectares, depending on the land quality.

In addition to these size restrictions there are a host of other rules affecting subdivision so, if you are wanting to plan your future with some certainty in advance of future pending rule changes, feel free to give me a call and discuss your particular situation. 

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Hauraki and Bay of Plenty.  For further information call 021 035 7226 or email btrail@surveyingservices.co.nz

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