Waipa Decision (July 2014)

New subdivision rules about to bite in Waipa

Two years ago Waipa District Council announced proposed new rural subdivision rules in their District Plan review.  Today they have effect.

Radical changes to subdivision rules are about to place a big cost on the subdivision of rural properties.  Council decisions have just been released and in most cases the committee upheld the original proposal.

The 40 hectare minimum rural size is now virtually set in concrete, baring an appeal to the Environment Court.  This has been lifted from the old 25ha minimum and makes it so much harder to establish smaller sized lots required for uses other than large scale dairying.  Situations requiring such lots will require a non-complying application, which may not be impossible but will be expensive - requiring much expert evidence!  The committee's justification for holding fast on this one was that “any demand for smaller lots can be met by the existing lots within the District, a resource consent process or other mechanisms such as boundary relocations”.

The 'long association' subdivision which was used by many to create a block for a family member or retirement has gone.  This was confirmed in the decision, as expected.

However, one old rule reinstated was the one allowing surplus houses to be subdivided off the farm.  This was reintroduced as a discretionary activity.  The discretionary process is one being adopted more and more in the latest District Plan, giving Council more control and the discretion to either approve or decline the application.  The flip side is that it gives landowners no control, and they have no certainty that their application will be eventually approved after spending many thousands in fees to apply for a consent.   This process demands a more rigorous application, and often requires the consent of 'affected' parties and many reports.  

Most future rural subdivision will have to be achieved through the protection of significant ecological, landscape and view-shaft features.  Although there are many of these throughout the area, if they are not on your property you miss out.  Council have also stated that they want rural subdivisions to be limited to no more than 50 lots per year and will look at changing the rules if too many subdivisions are being carried out.  Based on recent years, there will be more lots than that and I believe we can expect more changes as Council struggle to direct most development into towns.    

If you have had any plans to subdivide you should contact a surveying company familiar with the new rules just to check that your plans are still on track.  

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


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