Which Rules Waikato (September 2013)

Which subdivision rules apply in Waikato and for how long ?

As if the rules were not confusing enough – and then along came our first super city, absorbing most of Franklin District, and forcing amalgamation of the remainder into Waikato and Hauraki Districts.  That's when the phone started ringing and people thought they could start subdividing using the existing Waikato Rules.

Unfortunately that is not the case.  Under any such amalgamation, the area retains the rules that relate to that land under the previous Council's District Plan until such time as the new Council writes a new set of rules for that area.  How the new Council does that is entirely up to them.  Currently neither of these Councils have publicly stated their intentions.

A political decision will determine whether they act sooner or wait until a district-wide review of the rules is due.  This is no easy decision, especially since the Franklin Rules have just undergone a thirteen year process including Environment Court challenges.  The cost of a district plan rule review is high, involving a lengthy consultation period and legal process. 

However, I believe that it is going to be hard to justify such different rules within the same district unless they can be justified by real differences with the land use potential.  This may be so in relation to the cropping land in the very north, near Pukekohe, but the hill country to the south is similar in nature to the old Waikato District adjoining.

I believe that those hoping to see the more allowing subdivision rules of the 'old Waikato' adopted will be disappointed.  These have already been slashed by a recent plan change which is currently under appeal by Waikato Regional Council requesting that no lot under 40ha be allowed to subdivide.  In my opinion, this would be the regime most likely to spread to the 'new Waikato' area.

Currently the operative rules in the 'new Waikato' (old Franklin) allow for subdivision of one or two lots either by utilising transferable titles or by protection of ecological areas.  This offers some real opportunities for those further north to create saleable lifestyle blocks.  The rational behind this is very different to that behind the 'old Waikato' rules which currently allow you to cut off a lifestyle block from an older title that exceeds 6ha in size (changing to perhaps 40ha).

The transferable title concept is unheard of in the 'old Waikato' area and appears to have little support there.  It might seem extreme, after the time it has taken to establish it, but I believe that we are more likely to see this concept dropped, rather than see it adopted across the entire Waikato District.

There are still some opportunities to subdivide in the Waikato District but many are disappearing fast, so if you have considered subdivision as a means to get the best value out of your land, now is the time to act.  If you are interested to find out how the changes may affect you, feel free to give me a call but don't delay.

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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