Subdivision can save our waterways (April 2021)

Whilst there is plenty of planting going on out there on the farm right now to protect the quality of our Country’s waterways there is an awful lot more to do!  But where does the money come from to accomplish this. 

A quick google search brings up the Government’s ‘One Billion Trees’ Project, Trees that Count, The Sustainable Management Fund, The Sustainable Farming Fund, and several locally based biodiversity funds.  Beyond this are the regional and district councils, who will often enter into partnership with landowners to achieve the goal of erosion control and water quality enhancement.

If you don’t qualify for any of these subsidies, or you just want to do your own thing, you may be able to finance your dreams by undertaking a subdivision.  Many of our clients are doing just that, and doing very nicely out of it thank you.

Many Councils in our region, including Western Bay, Waikato, Thames-Coromandel, Waipa, Hauraki, South Waikato, Matamata-Piako, Whakatane and Opotiki District Plans all now allow subdivision in return for protection of ecological features. The retirement and revegetation of marginal land alongside waterways required to achieve the subdivision improves water quality, creating a genuine win/win for the farmer and community.

The financial gains through subdivision are significant and, in addition to covering the compliance costs of the subdivision, will additionally provide much needed capital for farm improvements or a retirement nest egg – perhaps both.

Farmers have always seen themselves as custodians of the land and are often seen enhancing their farms gradually as the profit dictates, but a good capital injection through subdivision has the effect of fast tracking this work hugely.

Some of the most popular features to support rural subdivision are regenerating native bush, wetland ecosystems, cultural sites and bush covered stream and riverbanks. Unfortunately, the rules differ from district to district with some councils being more generous than others, so every opportunity has to be assessed individually.  In general, the more ecologically important a feature type is, the less area needed to justify a subdivision e.g. half a hectare of dune land of wetland, 500 metres of stream edge well planted, one hectare of floodplain forest or ten hectares of lowland forest may be required.

With many rural councils moving to restrict subdivision of lifestyle blocks based on overall farm size, this is the only way available now for many to create truly 'rural' lifestyle lots for sale or retirement.

So, if your land has a feature similar to those mentioned in this article and you want to subdivide your property, I am happy to discuss the prospects with you. Please feel free to give me a call and discuss your situation. 

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty. For further information call 0800 268 632 or email

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