Productive farmland is set to be better protected from development, but the move will make it harder for people to create lifestyle blocks.
A quarter of Taranaki’s land is currently classified as highly productive, and a new government directive will protect it from development.
But the move will also make life harder for those looking to subdivide, build housing or create lifestyle blocks, Taranaki Regional councillors have been told.
The Highly Productive Land National Policy Statement, which came into force on October 17, aims to keep New Zealand’s most fertile, versatile and productive land from being lost to development.
Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) will be required to identify highly productive land and manage the effects of subdivision, use and development with district councils, members of the policy and planning committee were told during their meeting in Stratford on Tuesday.
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The council has three years to identify productive land using the Land Use Capability Class (LUC) system.
Approximately 25% of the region will be categorised as highly productive land under the LUC.
At the meeting, Taranaki Regional Council deputy chair Neil Walker said that while nobody objected to saving land used to grow fruit and vegetables near main centres, placing the same constraints across the whole country did not work.
“In effect, what this amounts to is that this isan end, probably, to most lifestyle subdivisions.
“I just feel that it’s another one of these cases of which we are looking at the very big scale and thinking of the cities, when in fact the problem for the small person has kind of made life a lot more difficult.”
Walker also said farmers who retire and decide to keep a small piece of land would find it harder to do so.
“It’s going to mean that people who could have got subdivision under the district plan quite simply (will now) have to go through a consent process, with the costs and things that are involved.
“So something which would have been simple to do and easy to manage is now becoming an exercise like everything else in regulation and control.”
The meeting agenda stated: “The government has acknowledged that whilst there is a need to provide housing for people this should not come at the expense of land that is best suited to growing food.
“The protection of highly productive land (HPL) will also have economic and employment benefits to the community and supports the primary sector.”
Councillor Bonita Bigham said the government’s move aligned with the work they had done as part of South Taranaki District Council district plan.
“There was a proliferation of subdivisions and farms being cut up for strip houses, along roadsides and things like that.
“That then comes with the eventual expectation that those properties will be serviced with footpaths and street lights and the appropriate infrastructure to deal with the water needs as well. So, yes, we tried to make it harder, and we did.”
Iwi representative Emily Bailey said that she saw the future as more people moving to small land blocks to feed themselves.
“This seems to go the opposite direction.”
There are exemptions, including land that was identified for future urban development at the time the policy statement was rolled out.
Māori land and land for certain infrastructure or defence facilities with an operation or functional need are also exempt.