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Vacant Site Subdivision vs Land Use Led Subdivision - which suits you the best?

Updated: Feb 20

Subdividing your property can be a complicated, time-consuming and costly process if not managed carefully. There are two general types of subdivision, vacant site subdivision and land use led subdivision. Each type of subdivision has its own advantages and challenges. This blog gives you some insight into what you need to consider when you are subdividing your property in urban areas in Auckland and which type of subdivision could be best suited for you.

What do you need to consider first?

There are a range of factors that may influence whether your subdivision is feasible, which include:

  • Zoning of the property,

  • Size of the property,

  • Access, parking and maneuvering,

  • Servicing – whether there are available wastewater, stormwater and water connections, and other utility services (power and telecommunication),

  • Title interests – the title interests (eg. land covenant and easement) registered on the Record of Title can place some limitations on the use of the property,

  • Physical constraints (eg. flooding, land instability, proximity to watercourses and protected vegetation),

  • What do you want to achieve? For example, do you want to create a site that you’ll live on, or to on- sell? Who will be your target market and what are they looking for?

  • How much funding do you have available?

All of these factors can influence what subdivision type is best for you and your site.

Vacant site subdivision

Vacant site subdivision can be described simply as the subdivision of a parent site into one or more vacant lots. A vacant site can be created by subdividing a vacant parent site or subdividing around an existing development and creating a new vacant site (an infill type development). A vacant lot subdivision (resource) consent application needs to be accompanied by the Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE), a subdivision plan that indicates the new boundaries and a suitable building platform on each vacant lot, engineering plans (accessway and infrastructure designs), and any specialist reports (eg. geotechnical report, infrastructure report etc).

Minimum Size Requirement

The size and zone of your property are the major factors that determine whether you can undertake vacant lot subdivision. The Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) (AUP(OP)) sets out different minimum size requirements for each vacant lot in various zones, as demonstrated below:

  • Single House Zone: Minimum net site area for vacant proposed lots- 600m2.

  • Mixed Housing Suburban Zone: Minimum net site area for vacant proposed lots- 400m2.

  • Mixed Housing Urban Zone: Minimum net site area for vacant proposed lots- 300m2.

  • Terrace Housing and Apartment Zone: Minimum net site area for vacant proposed lots- 1200m2.

Note: In accordance with the AUP(OP) definition, net site area is the total area of a site excluding any area subject to a road, part of an entrance strip, legal right of way, or access site.

Because the Council need to be sure that there is suitable space for a dwelling, services and access, the land area needed is often more than if you simply built a second (or more) dwelling on the parent site. Remember to consider net site area; this often trips people up and means that a site that seems to be large enough to easily subdivide actually isn’t.

Land Use Led Subdivision

For a land use led subdivision, your resource consent application is essentially two stages but usually bundled into one application. The first stage is a land use (resource) consent, and the second stage is a subdivision (resource) consent, subdividing the parent site based on the approved land use.

For the land use (resource) consent application you will need to provide a comprehensive application that provides the specific details of the proposed development (including the building designs, plans, access, parking and maneuvering design and servicing connections), associated reports and a comprehensive AEE. Usually, you will need to implement the land use stage (i.e. build the dwellings) before you can subdivide the site (which is “Stage 2” of the overall development). You need to factor this into your funding structure.

Under the AUP(OP), higher density residential developments are envisaged in the Mixed Housing Suburban Zone, Mixed Housing Urban Zone, and Terrace Housing and Apartment Zone. The AUO(OP) may allow you to achieve a higher density using the land use led pathway than you could using the vacant site subdivision approach. This is because the AUP(OP) in effect incentives the land use led subdivision approach, as it provides the Council with greater certainty of the outcome as all the buildings, their use, access, servicing etc are assessed upfront. You still need to propose a development that is appropriate in the zone, and justify this via assessments, reports and plans as noted above.

The land use led subdivision option could be a perfect alternative for you, if your site cannot meet the minimum size requirement or you are looking for a greater yield than what the minimum size requirement would achieve.

Which type of subdivision suits you the best?

  • Intention – which type of subdivision is best suited for you depends on the how you intend to use the subdivided property. Whether you are selling the subdivided land or intend to build a house on the new lot for family use or investment, give us a call to discuss the best option for you.

  • The cost for subdivision can vary significantly. When you are drafting your budget, make sure you take into account the costs of consent processing, professional services, development contributions and the physical works into your calculations. The main cost difference between the two subdivision options is the level of physical works required, and the associated costs.

Need more advice on your property?

If you are thinking of applying for a subdivision consent, or need more detailed feasibility advice, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Planning Plus. We can guide you through the subdivision process and assist with the preparation of the resource consent application. You can contact us on or (09) 427 9966. We also have a lot of other blogs on our website that can help you with your resource consent journey.

Claire is an Intermediate Planner at Planning Plus and has 4 years of experience in resource consenting. Claire has been involved various projects which include the preparation and assessment of resource consents for residential developments and subdivisions consents.

Claire holds the qualification of Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours) and is an Intermediate Member of the New Zealand Planning Institute.

In addition to her planning expertise, Claire is also fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.


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 professional.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2024

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