WBOP (May 2014)

Subdivision changes in WBOP District - can I subdivide my land?

This is a question I am regularly asked by rural landowners in the Western Bay.  In response I must then ask them where precisely their property lies, as it makes a huge difference.  Things have changed radically from five years ago when most areas of the district operated under the same rules. 

Nowadays the majority of properties qualifying for subdivision into small rural blocks are located in the Minden Lifestyle zone.  The Stage 2 area has reached its limit of  the 30 sites allowed and is now on hold pending the Tauranga Northern Link.  However, plenty of potential exists in the Stage 1 areas, where lifestyle lots appear to be selling well now.  New lots generally need to be about 3,000 square metres but can go as low as 2,500 if owners have structure plan Walk/Cycleways or Greenlanes shown on their properties.

Subdivisions throughout the Minden zone are required to be carried out in conjunction with either the protection of an ecological feature (on or off site), the amalgamation of two existing lots or by transferring a subdivision right that existed under the previous District Plan in the rural zone.  The donor lots for these amalgamations and subdivision rights must be located in the rural zone of WBOP District.  Many older blocks have these subdivision rights and they can only benefit from them now by selling to owners located in the Lifestyle Zone.

If your property is located in the rural zone, you now have very limited opportunities to subdivide compared to what you once enjoyed.  If you are lucky enough to have more than one certificate of title then you can potentially boundary adjust between them to create a small block – you can also adjust boundaries with neighbours. 

If you have over 12 hectares of horticultural land you may be able to use the new 6 hectare horticultural lot rule.  Otherwise it really comes down to the ecological protection lots.  Under this rule you are rewarded with a subdivision in return for protecting a feature of value to the community.  Good archaeological, historical and ecological sites qualify here but It is mainly the ecological ones that get protected.

For example, protecting a wetland area of at least half a hectare – around an acre – can produce an additional subdivision lot.  If you have at least 250m of stream running through your land you also potentially qualify for a lot.  Areas of scrub or bush also qualify, depending on their size and significance. 

Other areas in this region such as Thames-Coromandel, Waikato, Waipa, Matamata-Piako, South Waikato, Rotorua, Whakatane and Opotiki Districts all now recognise the benefits of protecting these ecological features to some extent and offer some subdivision benefits.  As rules changes make subdivision much more difficult in rural areas, the protection of natural features and other attributes of value to the community will become one of the only ways to subdivide lifestyle blocks, I believe.

If you wish to clarify any subdivision strategies mentioned here please don't hesitate to give me a call.  I am happy to discuss the situation with you to see if it is worth pursuing.

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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