Subdivision Should it be part of your retirement plan? (February 2021)

Some of the savviest farmers have subdivision at the heart of their future plans – and not just for retirement.  Having your farm in as many titles as possible has always been a great idea.  Be it part of a retirement plan, resilience plan or straight forward self-insurance; it’s a must to implement if you can.

And with rural subdivision becoming harder by the day, it is something that should be given priority in your financial planning process right now.  Since a subdivision takes some considerable time and expertise to carry out, it is something to plan well ahead. 

Many a time people have cashed up a title to overcome an impending financial hurdle, such as urgent surgery, a sudden downturn in commodity prices or indeed to buy a neighbouring block. Having built-in flexibility with their landholding has enabled many to ride out the storm.

Then there is the issue of retiring on the land or providing a home block for family in your care or taking over the land. Since planning rules don’t accommodate that issue these days, you need to be looking for alternative ways to set yourself up for the future. 

Whether the titles making up your farm were there before you purchased, adjoining blocks purchased or a result of a subdivision that you initiated, they are a big asset. 

As resource management legislation tightens, the opportunity to create these additional rural titles is disappearing very fast.  Many districts now restrict rural subdivision to a 40-hectare minimum size, but that’s not always the case.  There can be unique opportunities where the land is less productive, zoned for lifestyle blocks, or where smaller blocks are allowed for horticulture. 

Another big opportunity these days relates to protecting ecological features. If your land has native bush, wetland or stream margins that can be protected, councils may allow subdivision as a trade-off for the long-term protection of these features. 

Taking advantage of these rules, whilst they still exist, will provide you with great flexibility.  Once established, these titles can often have their boundaries altered within the extremity of your land holding. 

There are many technical details to be considered when proposing a subdivision, apart from the land size, so you must consult a specialist subdivision company for advice pertaining specifically to your land as a first step.  If you have any desire to create additional titles from your land to provide your family with financial flexibility, please feel free to give me a call to discuss your options before it’s too late. We’ll see how we can ‘help you make the most of your land’.

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

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