So, you would like to subdivide.... (November 2020)

It may be harder than you think, and you will need help.

I have written recently about the increased demand for lifestyle blocks in the wake of COVID 19.  Many people are calling us for an idea of how they can take advantage of the current demand.

You may have seen a neighbour subdivide the farm or create a lifestyle block in the past.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do the same.  Councils review their rules from time to time, and the process of subdividing rural land generally becomes harder as time moves on.  So, a little more research is needed, rather than a chat down at ‘the local’ with your neighbour who subdivided ten years ago.

All land parcels are covered by a zoning classification under the local council’s district plan.  Knowing the zoning of your property is key to understanding if it is possible to create more titles from your current landholding.  Rural zonings can include such descriptions as rural, coastal, rural production, lifestyle, rural residential or low density residential. Each of these zones have their own set of rules for land use and subdivision. Often a quick call to your local council planning department can help identify the zone, if you can’t readily find your property on their website planning maps. Because the rules are so different in each zone this will give you an initial ‘heads up’ as to whether there is any possibility or not.

But don’t stop there! If, due to the size and zoning of your property or its environmental attributes, there is some possibility for subdivision, there are many more aspects to consider. There is bound to be a minimum size for any new section created - as well a minimum size for the remainder of the farm. The new section must have a suitable house site that is safe from possible slipping or inundation in a storm. It also must be able to cater for the potential storm and waste water disposal and have a safe point of access from the road.  These items will initially be considered in an overview by an experienced local subdivision specialist, but Council will eventually require detailed analysis and certification from licenced surveyors and professional engineers within the company.

And it doesn’t end there! The history of the land will have to be exhaustibly investigated as part of an assessment of environmental effects which is required for any application to subdivide land. This assessment is required to assure Council that no environmental damage or dangers will be created by the subdivision and subsequent building activity. This process also protects you as the subdividing owner because, in providing a section to the market, you are giving an undertaking to the purchaser that it can be built on risk free.

The costs will start to mount here, so you need to have a specialist on board to be confident that you are heading down the right track. Expert reports are needed from environmental and geotechnical engineers, ecologists, landscapers and the like.  Of course, these costs can be managed by an efficient process which ticks off the ‘big ticket’ items first. So, whilst Council may give you an initial steer, the partnership with an experienced subdivision specialist will ensure that your final goal is achieved with certainty and in a realistic time frame.

If you have any desire to subdivide to produce any lifestyle blocks, which are currently in demand around the region, please feel free to contact me for a chat about your options.

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Hauraki, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.  For further information call 027 499 3778 or email

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