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The Waikato District Council recently held an open day for stakeholders as an introduction to its thinking on the proposed District Plan. It is now quite advanced, with notification due soon, although it still lacks much detail.
It couldn’t have been more predictable in my opinion. The council has long indicated that it would see the back of transferable titles (a means of subdividing rural properties) and this has been confirmed. There is no mention of them at all in the proposed rules. This technique was a ‘title-neutral’ concept that played out in the old Franklin District, effectively enabling titles to move from one place to another.
With these gone it appears that council intends to provide ‘Franklin owners’ a path to subdivide small lifestyle lots from a larger title that hasn’t been divided recently. This method of subdivision has been available to those in the south under the old Waikato District Plan for many years.
However, in bringing the two parts of the district together under one subdivision rule, it is clear that council will propose a much larger ‘parent lot’ size than the current 20ha. That means if your title qualifies on age, it will perhaps also need to be 40ha in size before you can subdivide, and I believe the regional council will see to that. The lifestyle block will likely be limited in size to something under two hectares. The current minimum ‘parent lot’ size is 20ha in the old area, with a new lifestyle limitation of 1.6ha to protect productive land.
This regime will have the effect of moving the lifestylers well out into the countryside where there will be an impact on roads and travel times, but council seem to accept this aspect.
In a rather bizarre twist council is proposing to reduce the benefits currently available to farmers protecting natural ecosystems in the subdivision process. They propose to reduce the number of lots available to a maximum of two, no matter how much bush or wetland you propose to protect.
At submission time I’m sure there will be pressure to make this rule more flexible in order to protect more native bush, while giving farmers some significant reward for their environmental effort.
The new rules will come around fast and you will have an opportunity to make submissions to them. However, taking action now is by far the best approach and the only guarantee to hold on to your current rights.
It seems that the opportunity for transferable titles is all but history now, with these titles extremely hard to come by anyway, however if you have any interest in subdividing a title over 20ha in size in the old Waikato Rural Zone now is the time to move. The proposed new rules are imminent.
If you are interested to find out what opportunities for your land might potentially be lost, feel free to give me a call and discuss your situation without delay.
Brent Trail, managing director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty. For further information call 0800 268632 or email@example.com