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 Classification (LUC). 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).
LUC class is most commonly used and classifies land from I (the most versatile and productive class) to VIII (the class with most limitations). Classes I, II, and III are considered high quality soils within Matamata-Piako District Council’s District Plan.
The land in each class is further subdivided into sub-classes according to the major kind of limitation to its use. The subclasses are erodibility, wetness, soil or climate.
The LUC unit is the most detailed level of classification and allows for subclasses to be further classified based on the kind of intensity of management or conservation treatment required. Areas of land that have the same unit are capable of growing the same kind of crops, pasture or forest species.
Subdivision on High Quality Soils
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 37 per year between 2008/09 and 2017/18. The large increase from 11 applications in 2010/11 to 37 applications in 2011/12 may be due to 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.