TCDC Conservation (February 2014)

New TCDC plan creates winners and losers

As reported last month, the Thames Coromandel District Council notified its new District Plan during December and it is now open to public submissions. 

As expected, rural subdivision steadily gets harder under the Resource Management Act.  Controlled subdivision morphs into discretionary and what was a discretionary category becomes non-complying.  This has the effect of creating more uncertainty and significantly higher costs, which is a major criticism that many have of the Resource Management Act. 

Also, the terminology is not well understood.  The word 'discretionary' implies that Council can decide whether to approve the application or not.  This is true to a certain extent but there are limits.  The phrase 'non-complying' conjurers up connotations of being prohibited and has caused a lot of potential clients to walk away.  True, such an application does require more work and acceptance by potentially affected parties, but it does not mean it is outlawed – just not catered for in the specific rules.

Of note in the proposed rules is that the creation of conservation lots is now a restricted discretionary activity and moves to non-complying when the subdivision is not located in 'priority locations' as defined in the Plan or doesn't meet the required criteria.  Council have now determined certain ecosystems to be of greater value than the rest and produced a plan of these.

This has created winners and losers.  The winners are generally located around Kennedy Bay and the adjoining ranges, Tuateawa and Little Bay with small pockets around Sailors Grave and Hot Water Beach.  In these areas you may only need to reserve 2 hectares to justify a new lot.  Other areas designated on the map require from 4 to 14 hectares of good ecological land to be covenanted.  Outside of these marked areas conservation lots will require a non-complying application.

It is extremely important to make submissions to the proposed District Plan, whether you agree with it or not!  Complacency by many could either see proposed new rules gain traction or alternatively those that participate could influence Council or the Environment Court to change the rules.  

If you have any plans to subdivide, my advice is to obtain a resource consent that secures your rights whilst the new plan is in its early stages and has less weighting.  The final rules can sometimes bear no resemblance to those existing or proposed by Council.  An example of that is the recent change to Waikato rules which has just been finalised in the Environment Court – more about that next month. 

If you have any plans for subdivision in the future or wish to lodge a submission and require advice I am happy to discuss the opportunities, so don't hesitate to give me a call.  

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


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