Time running out under current subdivision rules - New TCDC rules could be implemented in March
The Thames-Coromandel District Plan Hearings Panel has just finished a marathon series of public hearings on the Proposed District Plan. Following the release of the plan in December 2013 and the many subsequent submissions, there have been eleven hearings extending over a nine month period with 203 submitters appearing before the panel.
I expect the final plan to be significantly different to that notified in many aspects, as the submissions covered almost every part of the plan. For this reason Council decided early on that it would not operate under the proposed rules until the panel had made their final decision. This position will cease when the decisions are finally released in March.
The significance of this date should not be underestimated. From this time the new rules will be implemented. However, some decisions will undoubtedly be appealed to the Environment Court – a long complex process! Once rules and policies are appealed, any application to Council will have to ascertain which rules are valid and which may have little weight. That research and application will no longer be straight forward and the outcome will be perhaps uncertain.
There remains a window of opportunity that many will take advantage of over the next 6 months but you will have to act quickly.
Due to the number of submissions, nothing is certain. Even the rules that have not been challenged specifically could change due to argument over the plans, policies and objectives. It is not unknown that a completely different rule pops out the end of such a process.
In relation to rural subdivision rules we are expecting changes to the long established environmental lot rules where Council has signalled its intention to allow these only in limited locations and number. This has been one of the major contributors to rural subdivision and a successful one in my mind – a new lot could be generated by protecting 5ha of bush or wetland.
Another commonly used rule is the 20ha average lots size which allowed a small lifestyle lot to be subdivided whilst leaving the balance in production. I am concerned that the Regional Council might be pushing for this average to be increased as they have in other parts of their region.
My advice to landowners is simple - sort out your subdivision plans now as it will never get easier. Firstly, obtain a resource consent that secures your rights under the existing rules without the need to take further action for five years. Then, if the new rules are by chance more allowing, you could perhaps take advantage of further opportunities down the track. If you have any plans for subdivision now or in the future I am happy to discuss the opportunities, so please 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 firstname.lastname@example.org