Waikato (November 2011)

Time up for rural subdivision

It has been talked about for months now but time is almost up for the lifestyle subdivision that we have been witnessing in the Waikato District, particularly close to Hamilton City on the smaller farms.  The rules have been reasonably accepting of lifestyle subdivision for those with over a couple of hectares of land and perhaps it has allowed too much fragmentation of high quality land.  That is going to change soon.

Waikato District Council have recently completed their public hearings on the proposed changes to the subdivision rules and will soon announce their decision.  If you are one who has been procrastinating over how to get the best value out of your land – now is the time to act if you want to use your current entitlement, before it's too late.

Once Council announces their decision there will be a period of about a month for appeals to be referred to the Environment Court.  Up until this period closes you will still be able to request a subdivision approval from Council under the old rules.  Those rules often allow two lifestyle blocks to be cut from an older block.

Under the proposed rules, a block will have to be at least 6ha and created prior to December 1997  before it can be considered for subdivision.  Only one new lot can be subdivided from this, and it will need to be at least 1.6ha (4 acres) in size.  Unfortunately this takes further land out of the main farm when compared with the 5000m² (1.25 acres) minimum size currently allowed.

Should you want to subdivide further lots there is (and will probably remain) a rule that allows it under a non-complying application.  With this type of application you must prove to Council that the lifestyle block is not affecting 'high quality soils' and the application process is more complex, requiring consent of neighbours and affected parties.

There is currently a big shuffle up going on between Councils which underlines how arbitrary the subdivision rules are in many areas.  Western Bay have, in the past, had a minimum subdivision area of 40ha.  They recently reduced that to 6ha on highly productive land, whilst other Councils are proposing that it be increased to 40ha from between 6 and 25 hectares.  If you own land in Hauraki, Matamata-Piako or Waipa Districts you should be having a good look into the likely changes right away because big changes are proposed.

There is little time left to apply for subdivision under the current rules that allow two lifestyle blocks so, if you are interested to find out how the changes may affect you, give me a call. 

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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