Rural Area Development
Rural Area Development Indicators (what we measure)
Demand for residential properties and lifestyle blocks in rural settings can create considerable pressure on rural land. Particularly close to townships, areas of rural land on high quality soils are purchased and subdivided into smaller lots for residential and lifestyle purposes.
What is High Quality Soil?
Soil class makes up one of the three components of the Land Use Capability (LUC) classification. The LUC categorises different kinds of land according to those properties that determine its capacity for long-term sustained production. The LUC has three basic components – class, subclass and unit (Landcare Research 2009).
Soil class is used the most and classifies land from I (the most versatile and productive class) to VIII (the class with most limitations). Soil Classes I, II, and III are considered high quality soils within the Matamata-Piako District Plan.
The subclass divides the land in each class according to the major kind of limitation to its use. The subclasses are erodibility, wetness, soil or climate.
The capability unit groups together land inventory units that require the same kind of management and the same kind and intensity of conservation treatment. Areas of land that have the same unit are capable of growing the same kind of crops, pasture or forest species.
Council monitors the subdivision of rural land on high class soils. This type of land fragmentation could result in future shortages of properties of suitable size for viable farming and horticultural units.
The number of applications received to subdivide Class I, II and III soils into lots less than 8 hectares has varied between 11 and 54 per year between 2007/08 and 2016/17. The large increase from 11 applications in 2010/11 to 37 applications in 2011/12 may be due to the progress of the proposed Rural Subdivision district plan change (Plan Change 42), which was consulted on in 2011/12, and proposed to increase the minimum lot size in rural areas to 40 hectares.
Plan Change 42 provided for boundary relocation applications, where two adjoining lots could be reconfigured to allow for one lot of up to one hectare, with the second lot making up the balance area. Although a small lot of less than eight hectares is created it means that, overall, no additional lots are created and the second lot has a larger area, which fulfills one of the intentions of Plan Change 42, which was to reduce the fragmentation of Rural Zoned land.