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Layout for your rural subdivision- what’s relevant?

So, you’ve found from our previous blogs that you can potentially subdivide your rural site (you can access these blogs here). Now you have the subdivision “pathway” chosen, what else do you need to consider for the resource consent application? What should you look at when designing your subdivision plan?

Building site

Each new, vacant site must have a specified building area, that must be shown on the subdivision plan. Under the Auckland Unitary Plan, the specified building area must be an area of at least 2000m2 and clear of:

  • all applicable zone yards;

  • the one per cent annual exceedance probability floodplain areas;

  • coastal storm inundation 1 per cent annual exceedance probability (AEP) area;

  • coastal storm inundation 1 per cent annual exceedance probability (AEP) plus 1m sea level rise area;

  • coastal erosion hazard area;

  • land which may be subject to land instability;

  • access to all proposed building platforms or areas; and

  • on-site private infrastructure required to service the intended use of the site.

In effect, the building area must be suitable for an actual building. This means it takes into account zone provisions for buildings (yards) and natural hazards. You should consider also its shape and ensure that the building area is of a suitable shape to allow a dwelling to be built on it. For example, a platform that’s only 5m or 10m wide isn’t practical for building a typical dwelling (especially the larger ones which people often seek on lifestyle sites).

2000m2 is quite large, and in some cases, you may not be able to provide this but your proposal still has a reasonably sized building area available, that meets all the above, and is suitable for building a dwelling. You would require resource consent for this infringement, and as part o the Assessment of Environmental Effects your planner will argue why the smaller area is acceptable.


Every site must have legal and physical access to a formed road. This can be via the new site directly abutting the road (where the actual access can be created by a future owner, when the site is developed) or via a right of way easement/ access lot. If a right of way easement/ access lot arrangement is proposed, the physical access must be formed as part of the subdivision works. This is an extra cost that you need to factor in.


In rural areas, servicing generally occurs on- site and you need to provide high- level assessment in your resource consent application detailing how this is proposed to happen with your development. Potable water is usually provided by collecting roof water and storing it in a tank. Water supplies for firefighting purposes in accordance with the New Zealand Fire Service Fire Fighting Water Supplies Code of Practice SNZ PAS 4509:2008 must also be provided- again this is usually via tanks in rural areas.

Stormwater can be managed in a variety of ways, and usually an engineer would assess this for your development. Stormwater management and disposal can be impacted by geotechnical considerations that need consideration (for example, there may be areas where stormwater should not be discharged due to stability issues).

Wastewater management and disposal is assessed at a high level, demonstrating that the site has the appropriate characteristic for this to occur.

The type and capacity of services (water, wastewater and stormwater) required will vary depending on the future activity proposed and its scale. For this reason, details for these services are usually assessed at building consent stage. At resource consent stage you should demonstrate fundamentally how these services can be provided.

As part of the subdivision, you must provide power and telecommunication services. In terms of telecommunication services, this can often be via wireless means rather than providing a physical hard-wired service. We suggest you think about your target market for the new sites, and what they would expect and/ or are willing to pay for.

You will have seen from our previous blogs, that the presence of wetlands on your site or those nearby can impact on the resource consents required under the National Environmental Standard (Freshwater)(NES(F)). Any discharge, including from a wastewater or stormwater system, requires resource consent under the NES(F). We recommend considering this when locating your building areas.

Esplanade Reserves

An esplanade reserve can be required in cases where your site contains a watercourse over 3m average width or is adjacent to the coast. In terms of watercourses, there is a specific surveying methodology used to calculate the width- it’s not as simple as just getting out your tape measure. You should discuss this with your planner and address it as part of your resource consent (subdivision) application.

Anything else?

Remember to also consider:

  • Is the building site located in an area that won’t notably impact on the rural character and amenity expected in this zone? Is it located away from ridgelines or other visually prominent locations?

  • Think about the boundary locations. Do these split natural features? Does a natural feature split the site in two? Is one boundary so steep, future owners would be unable to fence it? Your boundary locations should take into account the features of the site.

  • What was the past land uses of the site? Was it a use listed on the Ministry for the Environmental Hazardous Activities and Industries List? Past and present land uses can trigger the need for further investigations, soil sampling, further consents and remediation. You can read more about this in our blog here.

“Balance Site”

The area remaining once the new sites have been subdivided is referred to as the “balance site”- this usually contains the existing dwelling. In designing your development, make sure that the services for the existing dwelling and any other buildings remain within the new site boundaries. The dwelling must also retain legal and physical access.

Who needs to be involved?

Usually subdivision of your site, including the resource consent application, will involve a team of specialists and contractors. In terms of the resource consent, usually your planner will manage the process for you. Your planner will help identify potential application and development risks, what specialists’ inputs are needed, manage these inputs and liaise with the Council on your behalf.

In addition to your planner, you will also need assessment and inputs from:

· Surveyor,

· Geotechnical engineer,

· Civil engineer.

Depending on your site, its characteristics, and the natural features present, you could also require input from:

· Ecologist.

· A wastewater engineer,

· A traffic engineer,

· A contamination specialist.

Your planner will be able to guide you on what specialist inputs are needed.

Need more advice?

If you have a site in a rural zone that you’re looking to develop, get in contact. Hannah has been working in rural land development for almost 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to advice you on your options. Contact us on or (09) 427 9966.

Hannah Thomson is Director of Planning Plusand has over 20 years of resource management experience working in both local government and the private sector. This includes five years at Rodney District Council in roles including Senior Planner and Team Leader. Hannah has a wide range of experience including commercial, rural, residential and coastal development and subdivision on small to large scales and appearances at both Council and Environment Court as an expert witness for mediation and hearings. Hannah has assisted Councils with policy development and has also assisted private individuals with submissions to Council.

​Hannah holds the qualifications of BSc (Environmental Science) and Master of Applied Science (Environmental Management), is a Member (Int) of the New Zealand Planning Institute and Secretary of the New Zealand Planning Institute Auckland Branch Committee. Hannah is also a member of the Resource Management Law Association.


As with all our blogs this information is preliminary in nature only and correct at the time of writing. It is not intended to substitute for your own investigations or obtaining specific advice on your proposal from professionals. Planning Plus LtdTM is not liable in any way for any errors or omissions.

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