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Subdivision- what’s the Council process?

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

We’re part way through a blog series on subdivisions, so you may have seen some of our other blogs about what to look out for when buying land to develop or land to hold, what’s important in site design and different types of land ownership. If not, you can access them here.

You may be wondering though, what are the steps in the subdivision process in terms of the legal and Council side? We take a look at this topic in today’s blog.

What’s the process?

The process, from a Council standpoint, can be thought of as including:

  • Pre application,

  • Subdivision consent,

  • Approval under s223 Resource Management Act. (RMA),

  • Approval under s224 RMA,

  • Land Information New Zealand.

We’ll look at these steps separately.

Pre- application

We’ve talked about pre- application investigations and advice in other blogs, but in essence spend the time upfront to fully understand and investigate your site and your proposal. Get the right people involved early to avoid time delays, cost and risk later on. Its much harder and more expensive to amend design later on.

Often its useful to have a pre- application meeting with the Council. This isn’t a quick visit to speak to a duty planner, but a formal meeting with Council officers. This is helpful to discuss the proposal before its too far developed and you make changes if needed.

Subdivision application

A subdivision consent is a type of resource consent. It can be a standalone subdivision consent creating vacant sites, or a bundled application including land use followed by subdivision. To find out what’s the best option for you, have a look at this blog or get in contact with our team of resource consent specialists.

Approval under s223 RMA

Once you have your subdivision (resource) consent, the next step is to obtain approval from the Council under s223 of the Resource Management Act. This is the survey plan that will be attached to the new Records of Title, and must show all the areas proposed for protection, any easements, amalgamations etc. Your surveyor also has to survey the new site boundaries as part of this process.

You have a maximum of 5 years to obtain approval under s223 RMA from the Council. We would recommend applying for it well before this date, allowing time for any changes or delays. Once this has been signed by Council the plan may then be lodged with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) for approval. This lodgement is the responsibility of the applicant.

Approval under s224 RMA

When you receive your subdivision (resource) consent, you will see it is subject to a number of conditions. These often relate to physical works such as installing services, new driveways or crossings, fencing areas of bush, undertaking weed and pest control or installing stormwater tanks. Usually these are in the consent document under a heading called “224 conditions” or similar; these are the conditions you must meet.

Some of the conditions are required to be detailed in a consent notice. A consent notice is similar to a land covenant and becomes an Interest on the Record of Title. They are resource consent conditions that must be complied with in perpetuity and are enforced by the Council. Any subdivision (resource) consent conditions that you can’t meet at subdivision stage become consent notice conditions. Examples includes restrictions on minimum floor levels, colours for building in important landscapes or geotechnical recommendations for future dwellings.

Once you have met all the resource (subdivision) consent conditions, you write to the Council and advise them of this, detailing how you have complied with each of the resource consent conditions and providing supporting information where appropriate. Often your engineer, surveyor or planner would do this on your behalf.

The processing of a 224(c) certificate often requires Council Officers to undertake a site inspection, review supporting documentation, plans and certification supplied, confirm that the relevant development contributions have been paid and undertake a check of each condition of the resource consent to confirm that they have been satisfactorily complied with. Once the Council is satisfied that all conditions of the subdivision consent have been complied with then the 224(c) certificate will be signed. Consent notice documents will be written for the ongoing conditions that cannot be met now.

An applicant must then lodge this certificate with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to allow separate Records of Title for the newly created lots to be issued. The subdivision consent holder or their agent must make this application to LINZ- the Council does not do this for you.

The 224(c) certificate must be lodged with LINZ prior to the lapsing of Section 223 approval (three years from the date of signing); otherwise the subdivision consent will lapse. In this case you would have to reapply for your subdivision consnet, wasting a lot of time and money.

Need more advice?

You can see that doing the right works, assessments and applications at the right time is critical in subdivision. If you have a site that you’d like to subdivide, give our team a call. We specialise in resource consents, and we aim to take the stress and confusion out of the process for you. You can contact us on or 09 427 9966.

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.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2023

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