Waikato (September 2011)

Waikato lifestyle subdivisions bigger

As the Waikato District Council gets close to announcing their final decision on new rural subdivision rules it is clear that they haven't reacted at all to the many submissions requesting the status quo or other ideas.

Hearings were held last week on Waikato's proposal to reduce the overall number of Lifestyle Blocks being subdivided and make them much larger.  In their planning report, responding to the many submissions, they held tight to their idea that a new lifestyle block should be at least 1.6 hectares.  Currently it is common for them to be around 5000 square metres.  They are also limiting subdivisions to one additional lot per block where you have at least 6 hectares and a qualifying date of title.

In my opinion this strategy will take much more land out of 'production' by forcing lifestylers to have a larger block.  Council documents promote the larger blocks on the basis that it will ensure rural land uses and open landscapes so that “residents will experience a degree of rural life”.  I believe that it will create unwanted land and lead to many untidy blocks producing weeds if the land is not leased back to the neighbours.

Another issue with the current proposal is that lifestyle blocks will be forced further out onto the larger more productive blocks creating more potential for complaints against the effects from large scale farming.  Longer trips into town also result from this population spread, contributing to the danger on narrow rural roads and ultimately climate change.

Since there is an obvious need for lifestyle blocks in the rural zone and we need to manage the highly productive farm land, I believe that Council must consider allowing subdivision to intensify nearer to Hamilton, where the employment opportunities are, or on lower class land where roads can be upgraded to provide safe access to towns.  Many properties exist nearer Hamilton that have already had their productive capacity curtailed by subdivision and these could be further subdivided to provide the opportunity for rural living in order to protect the larger blocks further out.

Many other local Councils allow lifestyle subdivision on lower class soils, whilst limiting lot sizes on the productive land to an area which they believe can accommodate a sustainable operation.  This may be 4 to 6 hectares on land suitable for horticulture and perhaps 40 hectares for pastoral uses.  In Waikato District any subdivision other than a lifestyle subdivision on a complying lot becomes a 'non-complying' activity.

There is little time left to apply for subdivision under the old rules that allowed 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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