Waikato District Council plan changes

Big changes to rural subdivision in Waikato

Waikato District Council plan changes Glen Low, Commercial Property Partner

The long anticipated proposed Waikato District Plan was notified on Wednesday 18 July 2018.  The proposed plan creates a unified planning rule book for Waikato and (among other things) signals further population growth and housing supply for North Waikato.  In addition to the creation of new residential zones around the existing settlements of Tuakau and Pokeno the proposed plan significantly changes the rules relating to rural subdivisions.  These changes bring both challenges and opportunities for rural property owners looking to subdivide in Waikato.

While the Unitary Plan has been in effect for the Auckland side of Franklin for some time, the Franklin District Plan remains operative in parts of Waikato until the submission process for the proposed plan is completed. During the submission period the Council will be entitled to give weight to the rules of the proposed plan. This means that before proceeding with an application, prior to the proposed plan coming into force, Council will need to carry out a balancing exercise between the two sets of rules.

Under the Franklin District Plan it is possible to create development rights through the amalgamation of rural lots and the protection of conservation areas. The ability to transfer development rights between properties is not a feature of the proposed plan.  This means that any application to transfer development rights will be subject to a balancing exercise between the two sets of rules. This does not mean that an application to carry out a transferable development right subdivision will be unsuccessful. As rural subdivision will be the subject of various submissions Council will be limited to the extent they can give weight to these rules in the proposed plan. For anyone considering making an application for resource consent under the operative Franklin District Plan it is important to act fast and take appropriate advice.

While transferable development rights may be on their way out in Waikato, there are new opportunities for rural land owners to subdivide under the proposed plan.  The proposed plan provides for the subdivision of titles of at least 20 hectares which were issued prior to 6 December 1997.  Any new lot subdivided under these rules must be between 8000m2 and 1.6 hectares.  The lot to be subdivided will need to comply with certain requirements designed to protect high class soils and there are some discretionary matters which Council may consider before allowing such a subdivision to proceed.  We anticipate that there will be a number of property owners in North Waikato (previously subject to the Franklin District Plan) who will welcome this new rule.

Additionally, the plan provides criteria for Council consenting to rural hamlet subdivisions (being clusters of 3 to 5 lots in close proximity) and continues to allow subdivisions to occur on properties where conservation areas are to be protected by covenant (although does not allow the development rights to be transferred to a separate property).

The proposed plan is available for viewing on the Waikato District Council website and submissions on the proposed plan may be made by members of the community until 5.00pm Tuesday 9 October 2018.

If you are interested in what the proposed plan means for you, or wish to make an application for resource consent under the operative plan before the new rules come into effect, then contact Glen Low at Franklin Law on 09 237 0226.