Advising and facilitating on land development and subdivision

Malcolm Smith Consulting provides advisory and facilitation services in the Land Development space, and guides clients through the process as necessary.

Land Development

Land Development is a term that is often referenced to a project that primarily focuses on land. The project often involves a change of use of the land, or an intensification of the existing uses.

In New Zealand the traditional Land Development project has involved the conversion of rural or undeveloped properties to new residential, industrial and commercial allotments. The land is developed in so far as bulk earthworks are carried out, new roads are constructed, services are laid out and the new allotments are levelled and contoured in preparation for the ultimate construction of new buildings and the like.

However, Land Development projects can also involve redevelopments about existing established properties, urban renewals, commercial area upgrades, rural farm rationalisations to name a few.

The Land Development exercise generally involves a number of processes that together enable the conversion of the original property to the final development outcome. These processes can be described as follows,

  • Define a Development Concept or Proposal.
  • Apply for and obtain the Statutory Consents and Approvals.
  • Undertake the Physical Construction Works.
  • Attend to all of the conditions attaching to the Statutory Consents and Approvals.
  • Complete the Legal Requirements

Malcolm Smith Consulting provides advisory and facilitation services in the Land Development space, and guides clients through the process as necessary.


Subdivision is a process whereby an existing parcel of land (often referred to as an allotment) is either divided into two or more new parcels, or reshaped/resized to some extent. It is all about the change or alteration of land parcels, and the resulting issue of new Certificates of Title for these.

It closely relates to Land Development in so far as many if not most Land Development projects involve the creation of new land parcels, or at least the alteration of existing land parcels.

Subdivision of land in New Zealand is controlled by statute, and there are a number of legislations that come into play.

  • The Resource Management Act generally controls the Consents and Approvals to subdivide.
  • The Survey Act controls the completion of the Legal Surveys that define the new land parcels.
  • The Land Transfer Act generally controls the legal documentation that is required to complete a subdivision and enable new Certificates of Title to issue for the new land parcels.

Malcolm Smith Consulting has expertise in the Subdivision space, and can ensure that the new Certificates of Title are correct, complete and thoroughly in terms of the outcomes embodied within the development concepts.

Project Facilitation

We use this term to best describe the control and coordination of the processes that sit within the Land Development and Subdivision spaces.

Just about everything we do is either a process in itself, or a component task within a process. It follows that the completeness and efficiency of our efforts is strongly influenced by how well we coordinate and control the processes that we work through.

Land Development and Subdivision is very much process orientated, and whilst some tasks can occur in tandem, others are very much sequential. Malcolm Smith Consulting is very attuned to the processes, and is very experienced in the overall facilitation role. And we take great pride in ensuring that ALL of the tasks and activities are considered, actioned and coordinated as appropriate. And we make sure that this facilitation role includes good communication with all of the project team, so that everyone knows what they are required to do, when it needs to be completed by and how it integrates with the other activities.

We also spend a lot of time and energy to coordinate the Land Development and/or Subdivision processes with other development processes that may sit within the overall project. For example, we will often integrate a Subdivision exercise with the construction of an Apartment complex, where one of the project outcomes is to enable separate ownership of each apartment. Similarly, we may integrate a discrete Land Development exercise with the overall development of a Tourist Resort project.

Malcolm Smith Consulting partnering clients through the entire development from inception to completion

Resource Management Act

Since the 1990’s The Resource Management Act (RMA) has been in effect and has influenced and to a degree controlled Land Development and Subdivision within New Zealand.

The RMA promotes the sustainable management of natural and physical resources such as land, air and water, and it is New Zealand’s principal legislation for environmental management.

Amongst other things this Statute provides the legislative framework from which National, Regional and Local Authorities then provide National Environmental Standards, Regional Policy Statements, Regional and District Plans and other such documents, that together form a suite of regulations to ensure that the purposes of the Act are achieved.

The Act requires that certain uses of natural resources (land being one of these) require a specific authorisation by resource consent. As part of an application for resource consent, an Assessment of Environmental Effects is required. This assessment, in theory, includes all potential impacts on the environment with ‘sustainability’ as a strong consideration.
Resource consents by definition include:

  • Land Use activities – to undertake a land use.
  • Subdivision activities – to subdivide land and airspace.
  • Water permits – to take natural water.
  • Discharge permits – to discharge to ground or watercourses.
  • Coastal permits – to undertake activities about the coastal margins.

In a general sense, all growth and development projects need to be considered in light of the RMA. Most projects will require resource consent(s), and each of these authorisations will normally incorporate conditions that will have to be satisfied or met by the consent holder. Some of these conditions can be met by ensuring the development is completed in a prescribed manner, while other conditions will require ongoing compliance through the life of the activity.

It is vital that everyone who is involved in growth and development activities in New Zealand is aware of and familiar with the relevant provisions of the Resource Management Act. They must also understand how it influences and controls not only the relevant development processes but also the project outcomes.

Land law

Beyond The Resource Management Act, New Zealand has a suite of “land’ based legislations that control and influence Land Development and Subdivision.

These legislations are quite specific in nature and deal with a range of issues and matters that are of relevance to those dealing in Land Development and Subdivision.

Some of these matters are as follows,

  • Real property rights and interests in land, including the concept of estates and interests in land.
  • Fundamental principles of New Zealand land law including legal and equitable interests in land, the doctrine of tenure, the physical extent of a landholder’s rights in her or his land, and the concept of “title” in New Zealand.
  • The “Torrens” system of registration of title to land, and how the law deals with competition between interests in land.
  • Concurrent ownership in the context of acquisition, exercise and disposition of estates and interests in land.
  • Leasehold estates and methods of flat and office ownership.
  • The concept of “stratum” estates and Unit ownership.
  • Rights or interests in the land of another, including easements, covenants and mortgages.
  • The application of Maori customary title, the Te Ture Whenua Maori 1993 (Maori Land Act 1993), and recent legislative developments in the area of Maori land law.

Malcolm Smith Consulting is fully aware of the relevance and importance of these legislations, and how those undertaking Land Development and Subdivision must consider them.