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Small-scale subdivision- how do you do it?

In Auckland, the Unitary Plan – Operative in Part (AUP-OP) encourages development and increased intensity in many urban and suburban areas. Throughout Auckland you can see many older, more established properties being subdivided into two or more lots, and developed or on-sold. You may have noticed the number of houses on your street increasing through small-scale subdivisions. This may have got you thinking about what the process may be to undertake a 2-lot subdivision on your property.

What types of subdivisions are there?

There are different types of residential subdivisions:

  • Vacant lot subdivision: this could involve removing an existing dwelling and creating two vacant lots;

  • Subdivision around an existing legally established dwelling and creating a vacant lot typically to the front or rear of an existing dwelling, and a second site around the dwelling;

  • Subdividing legally established, existing dwellings onto separate sites (such as on a cross-leased site);

  • Subdivision around an existing legally established dwelling and approved new dwelling: constructing a new dwelling (or providing plans for one) and subdividing around the new approved dwelling and the existing dwelling:

  • Subdivision around new approved dwellings (the construction of two new dwellings and subdivision around the approved dwellings).

Different areas of Auckland have different zonings which establishes the intensity of development that is intended and outlines rules which relate to properties in each zone. The subdivision rules and standards are divided into rural and urban areas; this blog relates to urban development.

The zone and subdivision chapters of the AUP(OP) set rules and standards such as minimum site sizes. However, some flexibility in site sizes can be achieved when subdividing around existing dwellings and new approved dwellings. The existing environment/ intensity of development within the area around your property can also form a basis of whether subdivision could be supported by the Council on your property.

What do I need to look at?

There are many factors which need to be considered when investigating the development potential of your property for a small scale/ two lot subdivision, including:

  1. Investigation of Subdivision Potential

  2. An initial feasibility and desktop study can be undertaken of your property to establish development and subdivision potential. This would usually include:

  • reviewing the certificate of title,

  • looking into any relevant site history,

  • investigating the relevant zone and subdivision rules relating to your property,

  • searching GIS information,

  • identifying any natural features, natural hazards or relevant overlays on your property.

The initial investigation can help to establish the risk associated with the application, potential issues and any specialist input required for your proposed subdivision including architects, engineers, ecologists etc. Planning Plus can assist with the initial site investigation and feasibility which is a good place to start to identify the development potential of your property, identify risks, planning and specialist assessment requirements, along with an estimate of resource consent application costs.

Site Constraints

Site constraints must be considered when investigating the development potential of your property. Are there topography restrictions such as steep terrain, natural features such as watercourses, protected vegetation, overland flow paths which could restrict future development potential of a subdivided site, or natural hazards such as flood plains, coastal inundation or instability issues. If site constraints are present specific specialist input from a Geotechnical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Ecologist, Arborist maybe required to determine any development potential or risks.

Access and Parking

Formalised access is required to all properties, and this includes Standards for the minimum width and gradient of vehicle crossings and driveways. Parking standards are also set out in the AUP(OP) and differ for different zones. Where carparking is required on site appropriate manoeuvring should also be provided to ensure a safe transport environment for vehicles and pedestrians. Input from a Traffic Engineer maybe required to provide specific assessment where parking and access restrictions are evident.

Survey / Scheme Plan

A surveyor can be engaged to provide a subdivision plan which sets out a plan for how the site will be subdivided. The scheme plan will show the proposed land area for each new lot, boundary dimensions, service locations and other interests required on the titles such as proposed easements (i.e drainage and access).

Architectural Plans

Subdivision can be proposed around future dwellings. Architectural Plans can be prepared to provide the house designs for a proposed dwelling which shows the intention of development. These plans would usually be conditioned, and future development would need to occur in accordance with these.


When undertaking a subdivision, it is important to consider servicing of the site. This could include investigating if there

is a suitable connection to reticulated water, wastewater or the stormwater public network, along with identifying the capacity of the public network for additional discharges. An infrastructure report by a qualified engineer can provide a site-specific assessment of your property to understand what serving is available on the site and what maintenance or upgrading is required to be provided for the subdivision of your property. Other services also required to be provided for subdivided sites includes power and telecommunications. Are these available in your area, and is there spare capacity?

Where new development/ dwellings are proposed engineering assessment also establishes whether suitable building areas are available on your property; a geotechnical investigation is often required.

Overland flowpaths and flooding can also be present on, and will require careful consideration.

Want to know more?

We have a number of blogs on our website that you may find useful, including those on application and council costs and the resource consent processes.

We work hard to give honest and reliable advice to our clients If you would like to speak to one of our experienced team members about your property, please give us a call on 09 427 9966 or email We have extensive experience in aspects of the resource consent process, and have a wide network of industry contacts, we can help pull together a project team and manage the resource consent application process, taking the stress out of planning a small scale subdivision on your property.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

Helen is a Senior Planner at Planning Plus™ and has over 12 years’ experience in planning and environmental consulting.

Helen's experience includes the preparation of resource consents, compliance monitoring, environmental auditing, community consultation and environmental fund coordination. Her background has provided her with a wide range and thorough understanding of technical and environmental inputs.

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