Subdividing on Hazard-Prone Land

Understanding potential natural hazards when considering subdivision is important and can be challenging.

Territorial authorities are tasked with controlling the effects of land to avoid or mitigate hazards. Section 106 of the RMA enables consent authorities to refuse to grant subdivision consent where the land, structure or use of the land is likely to be subject to, worsen, or result in material damage from specified natural hazards (being erosion, falling debris, subsidence, slippage or inundation).

It is recognised that not all hazard-prone land will be easily identifiable at the time when a District or City plan is being prepared. In fact, it’s often not until the time of detailed site analysis for a subdivision application that the council may become aware of potential risks.

Therefore, a council has the discretion to be able to allow the subdivision of hazard-prone land if the applicant can demonstrate that they can adequately address any adverse environmental effects.

There are potential risks for both the council and an applicant or developer surrounding the subdivision of hazard-prone land and they should be addressed both at the time of plan preparation and during resource consent assessment. That is why access to good information at critical decision points is important.

At the Surveying Company, we work through the whole process with you from start to finish and a subdivision feasibility report is often the best place to start. It allows us to provide our clients with well researched information so you can understand the risks and opportunities likely to be involved and make the best decision for you.

For trusted advice, get in touch with us our professional team. We offer land surveying and subdivision services throughout the Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti and Horowhenua regions.

What You Need to Know About Subdividing Maori Land

Māori land is defined in the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (TTWMA) as “land that is held by Māori in accordance with tikanga Māori”. The Act was set up to facilitate better access, use and occupation of Maori land by its owners.

Subdivision is usually controlled by the Resource Management Act 1991 and District and City Plans so that anybody wanting to divide land into freehold, cross lease, unit title or company leases for more than 35 years, requires a subdivision consent. But this isn’t always the case for Maori land. Instead, subdivision or partitioning is largely controlled by the TTWMA and administered by the Maori Land Court.

One or more owners of Māori land can separate their shares from the rest and create a separate title. In Māori land law this is called a “partition” or subdivision. Partions are only treated as subdivisions as per the Resource Management Act when the owners are not members of the same hapū.

There are 3 different types of partition overall – hapū partition, combined partition and full partition.

A hapū partition is where all the owners are members of the same hapū. These cases are not subject to the same assessment as a ‘normal’ subdivision being considered by a council, particularly regarding size, shape, area, access, and infrastructure and servicing – unless the Māori Land Court chooses to address these issues. However, if the owners wish to build on the land, consent will be required for this.

Where ownership remains within the same hapū, it is also the Māori Land Court that decides whether reserve contributions will be imposed – though the council is entitled to make a submission to the Māori Land Court if it feels that reserves should be required.

A combined partition is a partition that combines the interests of a group of owners in two or more neighbouring blocks into one, with a new title for the combined area of land.

A full partition is an applications that would involve the transfer of the land outside the hapū. These cases are subject to the normal subdivision provisions of the RMA and require subdivision consent from the district council. Where land ownership will transfer out of the hapū, the council may take esplanade reserves or reserves (subject to confirmation by the Māori Land Court).

Before partitioning is approved, the Māori Land Court needs to be satisfied that either the action is necessary in order for the land to be effectively used, or that it will give effect to a gift from one of the owners to a member of his or her whānau. Also, the area to be partitioned must not restrict access to the rest of the land or take too much of the flat or useable parts of the land.

For those wanting to find out more, most records of Māori land are held at the Māori Land Court, although Land Information New Zealand also holds some. The Māori Land Online database contains some information and can be used to locate individual Māori land blocks on a computer-generated map.

Subdivision can be the first and most important step in developing, intensifying or changing land use. If you need help with, or would like to learn more about Maori land title improvements and partitions, please get in touch with us at The Surveying Company. Our experienced and approachable team offer professional land surveying and subdivision services throughout the Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti and Horowhenua regions.

Understanding Subdivision Covenants

If you’re looking at buying land with the intention of subdividing then there’s one thing you will need to understand before making a commitment – subdivision covenants. So what are they?

Subdivision covenants, also known as restrictive covenants, are commonly applied to residential subdivisions. Sometimes referred to as building schemes, they are a form of contractual agreement that includes restrictions on how land can be used or developed with the objective being to maintain the quality of a subdivision and the value of properties within it.

Landowners or developers often want to place restrictions on the use of land when they decide to sell it, particularly if they are retaining some neighbouring land or as a way to enhance property values by locking in the quality of the development. Covenants are a means to control the way a development looks and will be maintained as well as creating positive environmental and amenity outcomes.

Subdivisions Wellington

Common examples of covenants can include standards and guidelines for:

  • The design and location of dwellings and garages.
  • The location and width of driveways.
  • The manner in which a dwelling connects with and relates to the street such as requiring dwelling design to relate well to the road.
  • Minimum architectural / building quality standards, including prescribing certain building materials.
  • The height and location of front fences.
  • The time within which construction is to be completed.

Other typical covenant restrictions relate more to the land and can include:

  • The preservation of vegetation and streams.
  • The development of on-site storm water detention and its continued maintenance.
  • To keep grass cut to a specified length.
  • Control vegetation height in order to preserve a particular view shaft.
  • Prohibit the planting of non-native species.
  • Limit the number of cats which the owner can keep on the property.

Larger sections may be subject to a land covenant prohibiting further subdivision.

Covenants are recorded on the Certificate of Title and continue after you’ve built your house and after you’ve sold it, passing the limitations on to the next owners. The covenant applies equally to all the sections in the subdivision are usually enforceable by each owner of a lot against all the other owners.

Nowadays, it would be very rare for lots in a new subdivision not to be subject to restrictions on their use. However, when drafting covenants, care must be taken to ensure the meaning is clear and unequivocal, that there is an overall benefit to the subdivision and that they are not so restrictive as to put off prospective buyers.

Some covenants in the past have been unenforceable, either because they are poorly drafted or the law will not support them.

If you’re considering registering a subdivision covenant in the Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti or Horowhenua regions, talk to the team at The Surveying Company. We specialise in subdivision design and we are highly experienced with the covenant process and will ensure your covenant is professionally drafted so it provides you with the ideal solution.

Understanding Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering and quite literally shapes the world in which we live. Civil engineers design, construct, project manage and commission a wide range of infrastructure projects, from buildings and bridges to roads and water supply systems.

For as long as groups of people have been living together in towns and cities, we have needed protection from flooding, clean reliable drinking water, ways to recycle and reuse our rubbish and a network of streets and roadways to move around efficiently. Early examples of great civil engineering projects include the roads of the Roman Empire, the Great Wall of China and ancient Mayan ruins while more recent projects include the Panama Canal and the Eiffel Tower, among many others.

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What we know

Today’s civil engineers need an in-depth understanding of physics, mathematics, geology and hydrology, using computer-aided design (CAD) systems to make the process faster, and easy to modify designs and generate working drawings for construction crews. They must also know the properties of a wide range of construction materials, such as concrete and structural steel, and the types and capabilities of construction machinery.

Many civil engineers become experts in a specialised area of civil engineering such as structural, water, geotechnical, transportation or environmental fields. They can apply their knowledge of construction methods and properties of materials into the design and construction of safe structures, deal with the storage and distribution of water including irrigation and river control structures, the design of stable slopes and retaining walls, safe and efficient transportation networks, and environmentally friendly recycling, treatment and disposal of waste.

What we do

Civil engineers can be involved in nearly every stage of a construction project. That can include site selection, preparing accurate calculations, writing specifications for processes and materials, reviewing bids from subcontractors, ensuring compliance with building codes and monitoring all phases of construction from grading and earth moving to painting and finishing.

Designing structures that meet requirements for cost, safety, reliability, durability and energy efficiency is a key part of civil engineering. Engineers have responsibility for managing people, equipment, resources, time and money and good communication skills are vital. All professional civil engineers must be able to effectively articulate complex information to people.

How the Surveying Company can help

The Surveying Company are land development consultants that cater to various aspects of surveying and land development, including engineering.

Our professional Civil Engineers specialise in subdivision design of all types and sizes throughout the Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti and Horowhenua regions. As Wellington Civil Engineers, we understand all Council requirements and can project manage the work from design to completion. You can rely on our expertise in all infrastructure and access design, earthworks design and certification, and pavement design. We undertake the monitoring and final as-built surveys as well as the initial ground testing to establish the strength of land before construction or loading even takes place.

Talk to our highly skilled, award winning Wellington team about your next civil engineering project – we’ll find solutions on time and within budget.

Why You Need a Land Surveyor?

Whether you’re buying, selling, building, subdividing, developing or just want to make some boundary changes, professional surveyors are able to assist with your decision making and streamline the planning, consenting and land transfer survey process to achieve the best results.

Choosing an award winning firm like The Surveying Company who service the Wellington region, will help ensure your projects are completed ahead of time and within budget. Their Wellington surveyors have the professional qualifications, technical expertise and project management skills to give you confidence in your land transactions.

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When buying a property, you may want to understand how and if it can be developed, the opportunities and constraints and the sort of costs and level of risk that may be involved. You may need to confirm or redefine the boundaries, access and any physical or legal constraints that could affect the design or location of any improvements. If you are building, subdividing or developing, you will benefit from the technical information and professional advice that a surveyor can give about your options.

The foundation of good decision making is accurate information and at The Surveying Company, accuracy is something our surveyors take a great deal of pride in. We can guide you through everything for urban and rural developments from the planning requirements, fee-simple (freehold), cross-lease and unit title subdivisions, to topographical surveys and set-out surveys for construction works.

What you Need to Know about Subdividing your Property

Subdividing your property is the process of dividing your land and the establishment of separate legal titles for each of the new sections.

Simple subdivisions such as a boundary adjustment between neighbours may involve only the
owners, the surveyor, the Council and a solicitor. More complex subdivisions can require a wide
range of professional involvement including engineers, contractors, architects, designers, landscape architects, planners, quantity surveyors, valuers and real estate agents.

You may choose to manage the process yourself but using professionals to lead larger subdivisions will mean a smoother process and is likely to lead to better results.

Early advice and planning

You’ve got an idea for a development or subdivision but don’t know how to proceed or whether it’s even feasible. Getting well informed advice early on in the process could save you time and money later on.

Undertaking a subdivision can be a risky, exciting and costly exercise. It’s a good idea to understand the sort of costs and level of risk that may be involved before you decide to embark on the process. Costs you are likely to incur include council and LINZ fees such as the resource consent application fee and development contributions, and fees charged by consultants including engineers, your lawyer and surveying company.

Engaging a surveyor to undertake a feasibility report can help you understand the process and whether your idea is practical or not. They may even be able to recommend alternatives where appropriate.

Getting a surveyor on board early on in the process can be a good way to minimise risks before taking the next steps.

Subdivisions

Subdivision types

There are 3 main subdivision types. A fee simple or freehold title is the most common where an owner holds the full title. Crosslease (flat) and unit title (strata) ownerships are different part share arrangements. It’s best to obtain advice from an independent surveyor or lawyer regarding the appropriate ownership type for your situation.

Vehicle access approval

Planning for vehicle access and on-site parking should be considered early on in the subdivision design process. Most residential subdivisions require each lot to have its own access and often stipulate a certain number of parking sites per unit. On sloping sites or sites adjoining busy roads the vehicle access can limit the house design. A professional surveyor will follow best design practices.

Subdivision consent

You will need to obtain resource consent for subdividing from your local council. This can be a specialist process and in the first instance requires examining your relevant District or City Plan to determine what zoning applies to your land, whether your subdivision will be permitted and whether any particular restrictions or conditions will apply.

If your subdivision will not achieve the minimum lot size for its zone, the council may ask your neighbours for their agreement or publicly notify your proposal. A planner or land surveyor can guide you through this stage and prepare the consent application for you.

Preparation of plans

Detailed subdivision plans will need to be submitted as part of the consent application but once you’ve obtained consent, you will also need to arrange the formal cadastral survey to be undertaken which finalises the new boundaries and dimensions and final positioning of any on-site infrastructure.

Certification and issue of title

The council will check that all the consent conditions have been met and your surveyor will lodge the final plan with LINZ who approve it and issue the new title or titles.

The subdivision process can be lengthy and complex. Getting professional help from a land surveying company or subdivision specialist like The Surveying Company can save time, worry and unexpected costs.

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