Subdivision rules change for Northern Waikato
The old Franklin District area of the Waikato has recently had it's rural subdivision rules updated by an Environment Court ruling. In essence they are still the same, in that they allow transferable titles and environmental protection as a basis for subdivision, but the criteria have changed. There is not a lot of possibility for subdivision beyond that apart from boundary adjustments. This also affects the areas of Hauraki District and Auckland City previously within the Franklin District Boundary.
If you have been nurturing an area of bush or wetland, hoping to use it as a basis for subdivision then it is now time to reassess your options. The area required to be protected to enable subdivision of just one lot has gone up from a minimum of half a hectare to 3 hectares – quite a jump. So, generally, what qualified you for two lots in the past will now only give you one new lot. This area of bush or wetland has to be well established to meet the ecological standards and must be fenced off from the farm and kept free of weeds, animals and pests.
This 3ha size may not be available on most blocks. I believe that the majority of past ecological lots have protected features less than 1ha in size. Therefore, an unfortunate consequence of this rule is that already people are making the decision to buy in transferable titles rather than protect the ecological areas on their property, particularly where they are not already fenced off and may require enhancement. They are saying 'it's just not worth the time and cost'.
We can arrange the purchase of transferable titles and most properties can subdivide one new lot subject to certain criteria. When your property is larger than 4ha you may be able to subdivide two lots.
The Court decision has taken away the boundary between management areas such as Central, Southern and Hunua in favour of a new 'zone' called the Environment Enhancement Overlay Area (EEOA). This area is surrounding and mostly north of Pukekohe. Titles can be transferred from a qualifying 'donor property' to a qualifying 'receiving property' within the boundary of this EEOA or transferred to a rural property beyond this boundary – but not the other way. Titles can also be transferred between qualifying properties on the outside of this boundary. Herein lies a significant advantage for those properties that lie outside this boundary.
The boundary is best described as roughly following a line south from Glenbrook and then running east approximately on the northern limits of Waiuku, Tuakau and Pokeno before heading north through Pinnacle Hill, Paparata and up toward Hunua. If your property lies outside of this EEOA then it can be relatively economical to subdivide because you don't have to compete with those on the periphery of Auckland who are prepared to pay big money for titles.
This type of subdivision is unique to the northern part of Waikato District (and parts of Hauraki and Auckland) that were annexed from Franklin and does not extend to other parts of the Waikato, where some lifestyle subdivision is still available to larger blocks with older titles. At this stage I see it as unlikely that this method of subdivision will spread to other parts of the Waikato District. I believe that it is more likely that, with the pending rule review that Waikato are obliged to undertake for this adopted area, this opportunity could well be lost.
We are seeing less and less rural subdivision being allowed in the wider Waikato Region with every change to the rules. So if you have considered subdivision as a means to retire in your locality with less land, sell some land to provide capital to develop the farm or simply to create additional titles to get the best value out of your land, now is the time to act. If you are interested to find out how the changes may affect you, feel free to give me a call and discuss your particular situation.
Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions and land use across the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Coromandel. For further information call 0800 268 632 or email firstname.lastname@example.org