Changes being considered to allow more flexibility in rural subdivision lot sizes

The Hurunui District Council is considering refining some of the rules relating to rural subdivision to allow for more flexibility in lot sizes.
Currently five hectares is the minimum allotment size for rural subdivision but the Council is not sure this properly balances the opportunity for lifestyle block living with the preservation of rural character.
Consents Planner, Liz White, says the minimum was originally set to protect open space and rural landscape character, while allowing for some lifestyle block, part-time farming opportunities.
“While Council considers this has provided for a range of lifestyle growth opportunities, it is concerned the current approach has fragmented productive rural land into five hectare blocks, which in many cases is a greater area of land than is necessary for lifestyle block living.”
The Council still wants to see five hectares retained as ‘an average’ but is now considering allowing smaller lots to be created, within reason.
For example, where currently a 10 hectare block can only be subdivided into two x five hectare lots, it would be possible for the same lot to be subdivided into two lots of any size, e.g. eight hectares and two hectares. The balance area required to ‘make up’ the five hectare average would be covenanted from future dwellings being built within this area and there would be restrictions on how often a smaller than five hectare lot can be subdivided off a title within a specified period of time.
In addition, a ‘management plan’ approach is proposed for multiple lot subdivision, allowing for several smaller lots to be created where the five hectare average is retained, and there is a large balance lot. One example could be five x one hectare lots with a balance lot of 26ha being created from a 30ha title, rather than six x five hectare lots. Strong criteria would apply to ensure the development is appropriate for the area.
 Liz White says the proposed change isn’t designed to increase the amount of subdivision, rather provide more flexibility in the apportioning of land, to better balance the opportunity for lifestyle block living with the protection of productive uses of rural land.
The Council is also looking to relax the five hectare minimum for those people wanting to live within an area with a rural feel, but without the large amount of land to look after, and while still in close proximity to community facilities.
Currently the rural lifestyle zoning within urban areas allows for sections at an average of 2500m2.
The Council is proposing a new ‘rural residential’ zone outside, but adjacent to townships, to provide another lifestyle option, with a 5000m2 minimum, and one hectare average.
This type of zoning is seen to be appropriate only for those townships where it can be serviced by existing infrastructure such as reticulated water and sewerage systems.
The new direction takes into account feedback from an issues and options paper circulated last August.
A review of the Coastal Environment boundary is also now underway to confirm the appropriateness of existing rules allowing for subdivision within this area at a minimum of 20 hectares per lot.
The Council is concerned the broad scale nature of the boundary mapping has led to large areas of substantially modified agricultural landscapes outside the immediate coastal ribbon being incorporated within this coastal zone. Changes to the boundary could potentially see a reduction in the average lot size to an average of five hectares, in line with the current rules in the general management area.
The only exception to the proposed rural subdivision changes is for the Woodbank Road area, near Hanmer.
Liz White says that is because recent subdivisions have highlighted the need to review the rules if the rural character and amenity of this area is to be maintained.
One of the ways the Council thinks this can be achieved is to increase the minimum lot size for a controlled activity subdivision from five hectares to 20 hectares, with new landscape standards and assessment criteria also proposed to encourage consolidated subdivision proposals and sensitively designed buildings in the future.

The public is invited to make their views known on the proposed changes by 5pm Monday 16 August.
Further information