As the threat of a repeated lockdown continually hovers over us, many are heading for the hills and will indeed be, for the foreseeable future. Literally they are, because that is where the lifestyle blocks are generally to be had. Apart from the nice flat rural lands on the edge of town where, it appears, the local Council has the right to gobble up farmland for urban sprawl, most lifestyle blocks will be developed on the relatively unproductive land in the foothills. In some cases, where environmental gains can be promoted to justify the change in focus from ‘production’ to ‘lifestyle’, other land is subdivided. In many cases there is an argument that the small blocks are more productive than the larger farming operations – they certainly have less environmental impact than some of the more intensive alternative land uses.
In the Western Bay, Council’s approach to rural subdivision has evolved over the last 10 years from a very liberal approach to subdivision, based largely on ‘land size’; to a strictly environmental outcome. For example, if you have half a hectare of wetland or 250 metres of stream that you can revegetate with natives 20 metres wide on both sides, you have a chance of qualifying for a subdivision. With larger features you may well obtain more new titles. Other rules take into account areas of scrub and bush exceeding several hectares, but the requirements are more complex.
Either side of the Western Bay, in Hauraki District and the Eastern Bay - Whakatane District Council - there are specific rural zones that allow for lifestyle development. The zone rules cover section sizes, amenity and servicing requirements.
Further afield in the Waikato and Coromandel regions, including Waipa District, the focus shifts back to having a large tract of native vegetation to preserve for all time, balancing the perceived environmental effects of subdivision. Other rules allow for protection of recognised ecological or other environmental features, or recognised view shafts.
So, as we place more focus on protecting the planet, the rules are evolving to provide limited opportunities for those who want to do it alone and provide a lifestyle for themselves and their families. Provided this development is carefully designed and doesn’t consume huge tracts of productive land, it can be justified as a win for the original farm owner, a win for the environment and a win for those that can grow up learning the rural skills that have shaped this country and continue to support us all. The farmers, being the custodians of our rural land resource, know what land is needed to sustain their operation and what can be spared for the lifestyle dream of many.
The demand for these blocks is certainly on the ‘up and up’ and we are seeing many of our past proposals swinging into action following the recent lockdowns. People seem to be placing much more emphasis on progressing their lifestyle plans right now. If you have any interest in progressing your dream of creating the blocks for them to purchase, then feel free to approach me with your ideas and we’ll see how we can assist you.
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 email@example.com