Get up to date with the rules

Your land surveyed
with Brent Trail
Surveying Services Ltd

With a new year you may have plans to develop your property, add to it or relocate completely. So, if you’re planning a subdivision or boundary adjustment on the farm this year you must check the rules early on. Councils are regularly making changes to their district plan rules, particularly around subdivision. Currently there are ongoing Environment Court hearings in relation to the Thames-Coromandel Plan, and Waikato is about to announce a major change that will cover their original area, plus the part annexed from Franklin when the ‘Super City’ was established. We expect this to be a major change for the ex-Franklin area and a further significant tightening of the rules in Waikato generally.

Other surrounding districts such as Hauraki, Waipa, Matamata-Piako, Western Bay, Whakatane and Rotorua Lakes have also made changes over recent years.

In our dealings with clients it is very apparent that they often learn the rules from talking to mates at the field days or a local establishment. Unfortunately, by the time they want to do some form of subdivision, which includes boundary changes, the rules have changed – perhaps several times. The only way to keep up to date is to respond to public notices and mail from your council advising of pending changes.

Have a say

There is always a submission phase where you can voice your support or opposition to any proposed rule change. You then have a say in the process and may have some chance of completing any plans that you may have had. However, from my experience, you don’t want to wait for that time as it is full of complexities and high costs. You should simply get on and plan the future of your land well before rule changes take the potential away from you.

Many people I work for have separated their properties into several titles over the years and retained the titles, particularly the ones with productive land. This gives them options in the future, such as boundary adjustments and relocation of titles.

Most councils are lifting the minimum areas for rural subdivision to over 40 hectares. Needless to say, given that most titles are already below this area, there is little opportunity for further subdivision. This often equally applies to unproductive land, as councils do often implement blanket rules.


Matamata-Piako is an exception and has allowed subdivision of certain rural blocks over 28ha in size, with lifestyle blocks still being allowed on some 'older' productive titles over 40ha in size, as well as on some of the lower quality land.

Hauraki District Council, while implementing the 40ha minimum on the plains, has allowed lifestyle subdivision on the foothills and smaller rural blocks around Waihi. Western Bay has established a lifestyle zone close to Tauranga in an attempt to accommodate the demand.

If subdivision or boundary adjustments are on your radar for this year, I would encourage you to check the rules first and not rely on hearsay. Apart from the area requirements for subdivided lots, there are many other rules that we need to comply with when making an application. I am happy to discuss the opportunities for now and the future, so don't hesitate to give me a call.

Brent Trail, managing firector 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


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