Rural Subdivision retained for now in Matamata-Piako

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with Brent Trail
Surveying Services Ltd

It’s been about seven years since the subdivision rules were rewritten in the Matamata-Piako district. The final rules were settled after a public consultation period and a lengthy appeal to the Environment Court. We are mindful that, with a 10-year review period, this process will start again before too long – so be aware.

In recent years many councils in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regions have moved to severely restrict smaller rural and lifestyle blocks. Most now have a minimum rural block size of 40ha. This is driven largely by Waikato Regional Council, which is pushing to limit lifestyle blocks under the current Waikato District Plan review.

If these overtures are successful, most applications for lifestyle blocks will become non-complying in that district and others. This doesn’t mean they are prohibited but, with the process being much more complex and very costly – including neighbour’s consent requirements – my advice is generally to not bother with this process.

But for a successful appeal to the courts last time around, challenging this approach, those landowners in the Matamata-Piako District would have faced similar restrictions. The blanket 40ha approach would not have catered for varying land use such as poultry and orchards, apparently focussing solely on largescale dairy operations. Matamata-Piako instead took a ‘land quality’ approach, allowing properties with ‘general quality’ land to subdivide down to a 20ha size, whereas ‘high quality’ land requires 40ha in general.

In addition, each title that existed on December 4, 2013, will qualify for an application to subdivide one block of 8ha or more, provided a balance lot can be left of at least 20ha in size. We see this as providing an opportunity for those people that haven’t already subdivided, to sever a small rural lot from their farm for diversification or family settlement. 

It is not uncommon for someone to subdivide a property and sell parts to each neighbour, perhaps retaining their house and some land – possibly for retirement. This rule often allows them the flexibility to do this, avoiding expensive ‘non-complying’ applications that have no certainty of approval.

Another rule that was retained is the ability to apply to cut a ‘lifestyle’ block off the farm. This block is limited in size to either 1ha or 2ha, depending on the quality of land and title date. The balance area must be either 20ha or 40ha, depending on land quality.

In addition to these size restrictions there are a host of other rules affecting subdivision so if you’re wanting to plan your future with some certainty in advance of future pending rule changes, feel free to give me a call and discuss your particular situation.

Brent Trail, managing director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Hauraki and Bay of Plenty. For further information, call 021 035 7226. Or email:


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