The long-awaited changes to the Waikato District Plan Subdivision Rules that aim to create a level playing field for the entire District, including the ex-Franklin area, are delayed yet again.
Ironically, when I wrote a couple of months ago of the pending date of announcement of these rules for September this year, the Council had already written to the Minister for the Environment requesting another extension to the statutory time frame.
When, and it appears if, the new rules are announced on January 17 next year we will finally have a set of rules governing how people can subdivide their land in the rural zone that covers the whole District from Pokeno in the north to Raglan in the south.
Whilst this delay might be welcomed by some landowners in the ‘old’ Waikato District’, who could ultimately see their subdivision rights reduced, many in the ‘old Franklin part’ may well be disappointed. Those in the Franklin area have long been comparatively disadvantaged by their rather limited subdivision opportunities. They were able to subdivide land largely by amalgamating existing titles either owned by themselves or others – a rather complex and often expensive system not currently favoured by the Waikato District Council. Another way that they could subdivide was by protecting a qualifying ecological feature to gain subdivision approval, sometimes allowing several new sections.
This ecological protection mechanism has also been available to landowners in the ‘old Waikato’ as it is in many other surrounding regions. This method is seen as mitigating the effects of subdividing through offsetting with environmental benefits.
However, Waikato farmers have also been able to subdivide lifestyle blocks off many older titles that exceed twenty hectares in size. I believe that once Environment Court hearings have taken place, following the pending announcement of Council’s Hearing Decision in January, that twenty-hectare minimum requirement could well be forty-hectares. Herein lies the risk for those in the ‘old Waikato’.
The proposed rules also contain provisions for limited scope boundary adjustments and relocation of existing titles within the bounds of an existing holding.
If you are interested to find out what opportunities might potentially be lost or gained through this process, feel free to give us a call and discuss your situation without delay.