Waikato Review (March 2017)

New Subdivision rules for Waikato and Franklin

For some time now, since the super city was established, two parts of the Waikato District have been operating under separate district plans.  Confusing to say the least.  Having been through a consultation phase over the past year or two, Council are now into the draft district plan development stage with notification of the new rules scheduled for later this year.  The only thing certain is that there will be change.

Currently the rural subdivision rules in each plan are quite different.  The Franklin District Plan allows virtually no subdivision opportunities unless you are transferring a title from somewhere else in the 'plan area' or protecting a significant ecological feature. Forty hectare lots are the minimum size for general rural lots.

Under the Waikato Plan lifestyle lots are still allowed to be subdivided off older titles that are over 20ha in size.  Ecological protection lots are permitted, but the number allowed and the size of ecological feature required to be protected are different.  There is no general rural lot size.  Both plans allow for some boundary adjustment between existing titles.

There is much speculation about how the new rules will pan out.  Some are hoping that lifestyle lots will be allowed across the whole district.  Some expect the transferable title rule, currently available under the Franklin Plan, will be adopted.  If I was a betting man I wouldn't risk money on either, but I consider that the lifestyle lots have more chance of surviving because they have a long history and Waikato District Council have traditionally been against the use of transferable titles.  However, if lifestyle blocks survive the review, I can only see them being allowed to be subdivided off larger lots – perhaps over 40ha in original size.

Waikato Regional Council have been pushing for larger blocks for some time and have, in the past, specifically requested a minimum forty hectare block before a lifestyle block can be subdivided off.  So my advice to those who need to subdivide for some reason is to utilise the current rules in your particular area and don't hold out hope that things are going to get easier.  They won't. 

The new rules will come around fast now but you will have an opportunity to make submissions to them.  It is an increasingly complex process, but worth being involved if you stand to be disadvantaged under the new rules.  However, taking action now is by far the best approach.

If you are interested to find out what opportunities for your land might potentially be lost, feel free to give me a call and discuss your situation without delay. 

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

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