Plan for change with new council rules - Matamata-Piako and Waipa hearings are first up this year.
With the new year upon us there is no time to sit back if you are planning to subdivide or build another house on your rural block. Councils in the Waikato Region are pushing on with their plans to make rural lifestyle and small farming blocks much more difficult to establish. The end result will be at least a huge increase in costs, however subdivision will become impossible in many situations. Most councils are making applications “discretionary” now, adding a huge degree of risk for the landowner as the application navigates a more rigorous process.
Waipa and Matamata-Piako Councils are holding public hearings early this year as the next step in a process that will likely ratify changes proposed last year when they notified pending changes to their rules.
Both Councils have indicated that they will be increasing the minimum lot size substantially to 40ha. In general, lifestyle lots are proposed to be restricted to the steeper less productive soils and away from any 'significant landscapes'. This means that you won't be able to subdivide off a small house block from the farm in most situations. Contrary to Council planners’ opinions, this will not take away the desire or need for these smaller blocks – but it will sure make them a whole lot harder to subdivide.
Under these proposals any subdivision with lots below this magic 40ha size will likely become non-complying. This doesn't mean that they are prohibited, but the process is much more complex, with significant additional specialist reporting required to back up the application, including approvals from all neighbours.
How will these proposed changes affect your plans? During the review process you can still carry out subdivision under the old rules so, if you have thought of subdividing, it is important to get on with it right now, without delay.
Currently in Waipa you can make small lots by keeping the average throughout the subdivision to over 25ha and also many can subdivide a small lot off if they have been associated with the title for over 15 years.
In Matamata-Piako you can currently subdivide down to 8ha lots on quality farmland, cut a lifestyle block off an older title on good land and often subdivide lifestyle lots on more marginal land.
If current Council proposals gain traction most of this subdivision will not be allowed as of right and, due to the complex and uncertain process, will be unachievable for most. If you are interested to find out how any of these rule changes may affect you, please feel free to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org