Waikato (May 2013)

Rural subdivision gets harder still in Waikato

When proposed changes to rural subdivision rules were announced over two years ago I was not surprised at the tightening of the rules in an attempt to slow down the number of lifestyle blocks.  Council had been challenged by the sheer numbers of blocks being cut off the frontages of larger blocks close to Hamilton.

What did surprise me though, was the decision to make any future lifestyle blocks larger – they are proposed to be a minimum size of 1.6ha (4 acres).  This concerns me because this will potentially take more land out of large scale production than the 0.5ha (1.25 acres) blocks that were previously allowed.

Under the proposed rules, your original block will have to be at least 6ha in size and created prior to December 1997 before it can be considered for subdivision.  Only one new lot can be subdivided from this. 

I believe that this is only the beginning and that the rules will become much tougher very quickly in Waikato District, including that area of Franklin which they have annexed.  Allowing subdivision of the 6ha blocks has been challenged by Waikato Regional Council during the submission process, where they proposed that a block should be 40ha (100 acres) in size before it could be subdivided.

Some people may be hanging their hat on current appeals to the Environment Court going their way and allowing a return to the rules we had but I advise a much more cautious approach that involves getting on with it and making the best of a situation that could be fast disappearing. 

I believe that the outcome of this proposed rule change has the potential to be far tougher on rural land owners than the notified rules once the Environment Court and Regional Council have finished with it.  You may not even get one lifestyle lot, particularly if you have less than 40ha to start with. 

I have seen cases where the Environment Court makes a ruling quite different to either that originally proposed by Council or that proposed by a submitter.  So, if you have been procrastinating over how to get the best value out of your land, now is the time to act, before it is too late.  If you are interested to find out how the changes may affect you, 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 Coromandel, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty.  For further information call 0800 268 632 or email


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