Rule changes 'will devalue lifestyle blocks'

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 27/09/2013

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Proposed changes to Invercargill City Council rural subdivision rules have caused concern to the southern real estate industry.

Under the proposed district plan, open for submissions until October 21, the minimum size for a rural sub area subdivision will change from two hectares to four hectares.

If the plan is adopted, subdividing properties into sites smaller than four hectares will become a discretionary activity, meaning the council can choose not to approve the application.

At present, subdividing sections into two hectare blocks controlled activity, which the council has to approve.

Invercargill City Council policy planner Gareth Clarke said the changes had been instigated to fit with the vision of the Big Picture spatial plan.

Part of that was keeping rural sites large enough to be used for agriculture in the future, he said.

The spatial plan aims to set a clear "edge" between urban and rural Invercargill, keep options open for future use of versatile soils, and control development and density to retain semi-rural ambience.

However, Property Institute of New Zealand Southland branch chairman Tony Chadderton said the proposed changes would reduce the value of four hectare lifestyle blocks, as they could not be subdivided and onsold.

Although property owners would still be able to apply to council to subdivide four hectare sites, there would be extra fees and paperwork involved which also impacted value, he said.

Professionals (MacPherson Realty Ltd) lifestyle and rural manager Graeme Hegan said there was high demand for smaller lifestyle blocks, sized between urban properties and four hectare farmlets. The full impact of the proposed changes would not be felt for some time, until the current stock was sold, he said.

"The market is trending towards smaller blocks and the council are going down the other way."

Reasons given to the industry for the changes, including that larger blocks would help effluent management, were not strong enough to justify the proposal, he said.

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