Lifestyle lots disappearing in Waikato and Waipa
New lifestyle lots may become a rare commodity in the Waikato Region once current and future changes to the District Plans come into effect.
Already Waikato District Council has halved the number of lifestyle blocks allowed, from two down to one (your current title must pre-date December 1997 and be larger than 6 hectares), and that is set to get even harder. In an appeal to this rule, Waikato Regional Council is seeking to restrict such lifestyle subdivision to lots over 40ha. This will stop most subdivision close to the city and push these lifestyle blocks much further afield.
In Waipa the proposed change to the District Plan is set to take away the right to subdivide a retirement block off your farm – currently allowed when you have lived on the property for 15 years or more. This rule is proposed to disappear in the next month or so and, once gone, the only way to subdivide small lots will be by protecting environmental features, which will be much more limited and costly.
Because of the complex process that these rule changes go through, the rules affecting subdivision are virtually changing by the day. It is quite a job to keep abreast of these changes, however we are a party to the proceedings so we are kept informed. We believe that applications for retirement lots will still be received by Waipa over the next month or so. Waikato will be receiving applications for lifestyle lots from blocks over 6 hectares until the Environment Court rules on the Regional Council's appeal. This could well happen quickly with a negotiated settlement avoiding 'going to court', so time is fast running out.
Waikato does not have a specific rural subdivision rule but Waipa currently has a minimum rural lot size of 25 hectares, which they propose to change to 40 hectares soon. Both Councils will generally allow boundary adjustments and relocations as a discretionary type application, giving the ability to consolidate farm land into a single title and produce the odd lifestyle block of a more manageable size.
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, right now is the time to act. It will soon be too late. 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 across the Coromandel, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty. For further information call 0800 268 632 or email firstname.lastname@example.org