Subdivision for the Protection of Bush and Wetlands

In late 2016 the new Auckland Unitary Plan will become operative, and the previous district plans across Auckland will expire. Rural landowners with unprotected significant native bush and wetland areas need to consider whether to take up their subdivision options now under the Rodney or Franklin sections of the district plan, or wait for the Unitary Plan rules.

In rural Rodney under the current rules the minimum area for significant bush subdivision is 2 hectares and an additional site is available for each additional 10 ha protected (maximum 152 ha). The minimum area for wetland subdivision is 5,000m2 (0.5ha) with a 10 metre native vegetation buffer.

With 2ha of wetland protected two sites are possible, and with more wetland than that protected, more sites are available on a sliding scale.

These new 1-2 ha sites generated from protecting natural areas under these rules can be used on the parent site or potentially transferred to an identified receiving area. Under the Unitary Plan it appears likely that the rules will change for protecting Significant Natural Areas (SEA) and the number of new sites available.

The changes the Council has sought are:

  1. Minimum non-wetland (bush) area increases to 5 ha, then goes up in 10 ha steps, but with no maximum area;
  2. Minimum wetland area stays the same at 5,000m2 (0.5ha) but with a 20 metre buffer;
  3. One hectare of wetland protected with a 20 m buffer earns two sites; but then any additional sites need 10 ha of wetland (currently 4 or 5 ha);
  4. Most SEA protection sites have to be transferred to Countryside Living zones.
    1. Only one SEA bush and one SEA wetland site can remain on the parent site and up to 3 sites from indigenous plantings (5 ha per site);
    2. All other SEA subdivision sites be transferred to a Countryside Living Receiver Site.
  5. Subdivision for SEA protection will apply across all of Auckland mainland rural zones, not just Rodney and Franklin.

Be aware that there appears to be no identified receiving sites available in Rodney now under the current district plan, and Council consents staff have generally opposed carrying over transferrable sites created from the Rodney or Franklin plans to the Unitary Plan. The current rules in the Franklin area are different to Rodney and we suggest you contact Peter Nicholls at Tripp Andrews Surveyors for expert advice on bush and wetland subdivision in the south. (http://www.trippandrews.co.nz/contact).

What to do now?

  • If you have a small area of bush over 2 ha, then it could be worth protecting it now with a native bush protection subdivision.
  • If you have 4 – 25 ha of wetlands then they could be worth protecting now with a wetland protection subdivision.
  • If you want all of your sites on the parent site (i.e. more than 2), then it could be worth protecting your bush or wetlands now.
Contact us and we can assess your best options for bush and wetland protection subdivision. Any application will need to be lodged by around the middle of 2016 to be sure of being assessed under the current district plan rules.