Subdivision is a procedural and legal function which in itself is neutral in environmental terms, but it creates constraints and opportunities which affect the sustainable management of resources.
Constraints can be created when sites are too small for activities that may otherwise be suitable for the area, or sites cannot be serviced economically and thus lead to increased costs for the District as a whole. Inappropriate subdivision on a State Highway can adversely affect the traffic function of the road.
Opportunities include the potential for increased population who can pay for a share of the continuing infrastructure requirements in the District.
Subdivision within urban areas is generally accepted, provided the site size and shape is sufficient to allow for the type of activities which may be expected on the site, and any adverse effects, for example on infrastructure, can be dealt with.
Subdivision within the rural area can cause a variety of effects. Control is required in order to consider effects especially on infrastructure, landscape and character. It may be that in some circumstances, no subdivision will be acceptable and therefore the ability to decline an application must be retained. However in other circumstances, subdivision to quite small sizes will have no adverse effects. The minimum size of 5,000m2 is however set to ensure that the Rural zone remains rural rather than urban in character. Only in exceptional circumstances, would subdivision into lots of less than 5,000m2 be likely to be acceptable as a non-complying activity. In considering such applications, the Council will consider the natural landform, whether the subdivision is for an existing house, the use of the balance land, and the reasons for the subdivision, and if approval is given, conditions may be imposed on the use of the land.
Financial contributions are commonly required on subdivision consents but may also be required on land use consents. Financial contributions are defined in the Act as a contribution of money, some types of land, works or services or any combination thereof. Financial contributions can only be imposed where this Plan specifies the purpose of the contribution and the maximum amount of the contribution or the means by which it can be determined.
Esplanade Reserves are surveyed areas of land adjoining waterbodies which are vested in public ownership. They are provided for either conservation, access or recreational purposes as described in s229 of the Act.
Generally, the Council considers that subdivision outside of the Conservation Estate is unlikely to be affected by significant conservation values. For subdivision over 4 ha, in determining the need for esplanade reserves or strips, the Council shall have regard to the criteria set out in Section 4.9. The Council is also fortunate in that access to many waterways is currently available through the use of unformed "paper" roads. In addition, the Council believes that as development pressure is low, and contiguous subdivisions are unlikely, that provision of esplanade reserves could lead to maintenance problems.
In some situations, for example where land uses requiring resource consent will generate a need to protect a river margin, or ensure access to a river, the Council may impose conditions requiring an esplanade reserve or strip. With regard to subdivision of allotments larger than 4 ha however, the Council considers that it is very unlikely that an esplanade reserve or strip would be necessary and therefore no requirement has been included in this Plan.
Access strips as described in s237B of the Act provide for public access to a waterway. The Council will consider a proposal to provide access strips in its overall consideration of the subdivision.
Westland, as elsewhere in the country, seeks to provide for the varied recreational needs of its residents be it walking in open spaces, swimming at beaches and pools, taking part in team sports on playing fields or undertaking individual sports such as tennis or gymnastics.
Westland is fortunate to have an abundance of open spaces which are used for recreational purposes, and Council considers that there is limited need for further recreational land. Compared to population figures, Westland is particularly well endowed, with over 1 square kilometre of reserve land per resident.
Due to the low population spread over different areas, recreational facilities such as swimming pools and gymnasia are difficult to fund from users alone however. Westland is unlike much of the rest of the country in this regard, and the private sector is unlikely to find it cost-effective to assist in providing this service. There is a considerable need for recreational facilities in the District in order to retain population, for example retired people may choose to move elsewhere if they cannot pursue hobbies in their District. Due to the high rainfall, indoor facilities are preferred, and roofing areas for recreation are constantly being sought.
Generally the Council believes that the interests of its residents would be best served by continuing to upgrade existing recreational land and facilities. In the past, capital works and new facilities have been partly provided by the local authority from the Reserve Fund account which was largely accumulated by contributions paid by developers on new land subdivision. The Council has always, and will continue to, rely mainly on rates for the general maintenance and upkeep of recreational facilities. However, it would be unreasonable to expect ratepayers to pay for capital works or new facilities given that they have, indirectly, paid for a share of new facilities when land was subdivided. It is considered reasonable instead to require developers of land to contribute towards payment for these works. The appropriate proportion of costs between ratepayers and developers will be considered annually in the Annual Plan process. It is expected that subdivision will provide approximately 25% of the funds needed yearly to upgrade recreational facilities - the rest being raised through rates, user charges and community funding. The maximum level of contribution for developers is outlined in this Plan. Means of requiring visitors to pay their share of the true cost of providing a facility will be considered through the Annual Plan process.
A contribution at subdivision is appropriate as there is a public expectation that contributions from new subdivisions will improve recreational facilities, There are adverse environmental effects from subdivision in terms of servicing requirements and additional pressures on existing recreational and amenity facilities which can be mitigated in this way, and the use of such contributions provides a unique opportunity to provide for facilities for the whole of the District. From time to time the Council reviews the particular standards required for engineering works associated with new subdivisions.