Timely Advice On Subdivision (June 2017)

Timely advice on subdivision

Recently I wrote about the dangers of listening to your neighbours advice when planning a subdivision – the world is moving too fast to rely on hearsay.

Currently, this is particularly relevant in two districts – Thames-Coromandel and Waikato. 

Thames-Coromandel District will likely soon to go to Court to settle the objections to its proposed plan change that have not been resolved by mediation.  This plan change process has been going on for several years now and the Environment Court will be under pressure from the Government to get the issues resolved as quickly as possible now.  We believe that some radical changes proposed will be reversed by the Court, if not already resolved during mediation.

We believe that the move to a 20 hectare minimum rural lot size was not justified and may well be withdrawn in due course.  Also, we believe that there are very good grounds for reintroducing the subdivision bonus given for protecting ecological features in the previous District Plan. That rule  served land custodians well. Council proposed that this should only relate to specific identified areas and it was challenged by many.

Waikato District is at the other end of the planning cycle, where they are ready to announce their new subdivision rules later this year.  Since they annexed part of the Franklin District in the Super City formation, they have been operating under two separate sets of subdivision rules.   This is the start of a process of change which could take many years to finalise.

The current two sets of planning rules administered by Waikato are quite different in nature so, I predict, bringing them together will struggle to keep anyone happy.  The Franklin Plan allows lifestyle blocks to be established in lieu of established titles being amalgamated – normally involving different parties – whereas the old Waikato Rules generally allow subdivision of a lifestyle block from an older property exceeding 20 hectares in area.  In the end result, I believe that we will see lifestyle blocks only able to be subdivided from farms exceeding 40 hectares if at all.

The overarching theme here is that, as in life, the subdivision planning rules do not stand still – they are always a moving target.  There is therefore good reason not to rely on your neighbours past experience, which could have been many years ago.  You need up to the minute advice from an expert.

Specific, timely investigation must be carried out on any proposal.  The job of an experienced surveyor is to balance the allowable subdivision under Council Rules with the land topography and potential use to come up with a concept that helps you make the most of your biggest asset.  In doing this we must listen to you, as the owner, because you know the land much better than we do. 

So, if you are contemplating any subdivision or changes to your boundaries and want to get the best value out of your land, rather than talk to a friend or neighbour, call an experienced surveying company for specialist advice.  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, Bay of Plenty, and Coromandel.  For further information call 0800 268 632 or email

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