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What is a boundary adjustment?

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Typically, in relation to subdivision, people want to create more sites. But what happens if you want to buy a small part of your neighbours land? Or they want to own an area of bush that’s currently on your legal site? In these cases, a boundary adjustment could be the answer.

What is a boundary adjustment?

A boundary adjustment is a subdivision of two or more contiguous sites, where the site boundaries are amended, altering the size and/ or shape of the existing sites. A resource consnet is required. A boundary adjustment does not result in any additional sites and should not result in the creation of any additional subdivision rights or development potential.

It is a common misconception that a boundary adjustment in Auckland does not require any resource consent- like most other subdivisions in Auckland, it does require a resource consent.

Guidelines to boundary adjustment

Chapter E39.3 of the Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) (AUP(OP) outlines that the purpose of boundary adjustment is to:


Provide for minor boundary adjustment which enable a more efficient and effective use of land where there is compliance with Auckland-wide and zone rules.

The intention is that small alterations to boundary locations are provided for, recognising that in rural locations in particular small changes to legal boundaries are often needed. This could be to include a farm race, a cattle yard or a specific paddock in one specific site. Farms often include multiple legal sites, and when one or more of these are sold often a boundary adjustment is needed to ensure that the infrastructure needed to practically operate the farm is held within one legal site.

Controlled vs Discretionary Activity

Table E39.4.1 of the AUP(OP) states:

  • Boundary adjustments not exceeding 10 per cent of the original site area and meeting Standard E39.6.3.2 are a controlled activity (which must be approved).

  • Boundary adjustments unable to comply with controlled activity rule and standards in E39.6.3.2 and E39.6.3 are a discretionary activity.

This reference to 10% of the site area again indicates the AUP(OP)’s preference for small changes to existing sites. The boundary adjustment rules are generally not an opportunity to undertake significant changes to site areas or location, or to increase the development potential (whether this would need a future resource consent or not). This would include for example increasing the size of one site so it could contain a second dwelling or splitting natural features between two sites to increase the rural subdivision potential.

Where the proposed boundary adjustment exceeds the 10 percent threshold or does not comply with Standards E39.6.3.2 and E39.6.3 of the AUP(OP), the application will be a discretionary activity. This is a different type of resource consent and will require a higher level of assessment. You should discuss this initially with your planner.

Access and Servicing

When carrying out a boundary adjustment, the existing infrastructure (such as wastewater, stormwater etc.) servicing the sites needs to be taken into consideration. Will the proposed boundary adjustment affect the existing infrastructure servicing either site? Does the servicing and access for each site remain within the new boundaries of that site? Will new easements be needed? It’s also important to also consider wastewater disposal fields and ensure that they remain within the correct site boundaries.

Building sites

In most cases the existing sites will already contain a dwelling. If not, where will the building platform be? Unless a platform has already been approved by the Council on the land area, you should consider the suitability of that platform for development, including geotechnical and landscape effects, access to it and servicing.

Other issues to consider

There are a number of other issues you should consider when planning a boundary adjustment, including:

  • Are you splitting natural features? What impact does this have on the ecological values and ongoing management of these areas? Generally, you should try to avoid splitting native areas between different sites,

  • What will the impact of the boundary adjustment have on rural productivity, in particular higher value soils? Does the proposed boundary line split the higher value soils? In rural zones the AUP(OP) seeks to maximise rural production potential, and you should consider this in the placement of your proposed boundaries.

  • Are the site sizes you propose consistent with the character and amenity of the area and the expectation of the AUP(OP) in this zone?

  • Will any new lot sizes, uses or building platforms create reverse sensitivity? Remember the sites are located within rural zones, the AUP(OP) seeks to enable rural production activities. Creating a smaller, lifestyle sized site can create reverse sensitivity.

If the site contains watercourses, esplanade reserve requirements can still be triggered. We recommend you discuss this with your planner.

Have more questions?

It is important to get planning advice at an early stage of a project, particularly when deciding if the proposal meets the definition of ‘boundary adjustment’ and if it meets the intent of the AUP(OP) provisions. Please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team at Planning Plus. You can contact us on or (09) 427 9966.


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 2023

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