Rural-Residential coastal development

Many coastal farms are being subdivided into rural-residential developments to accommodate the  growing demand for “lifestyle living” outside established urban areas. New sections may be several hectares or more in size and have large houses and associated structures built on them. Houses are often located to maximise coastal views and therefore are built high up on headlands and ridges, or close to coastal cliffs and beaches. The land surrounding the houses may be used for a variety of uses including intensive horticulture, hobby farming or reinstatement of indigenous vegetation.

If poorly located and designed, lifestyle development can detract from the natural and wild character of the coast. This is particularly the case if buildings are intrusive through being located on sensitive areas such as headlands and ridgelines and if reflective materials are used in construction. The cumulative effect of buildings dotted throughout the landscape can urbanise what was once a rural landscape. Where only part of a farm is subdivided, the remaining smaller farm may not be economic, which could ultimately lead to a desire by the landowner to further subdivide the farm into lifestyle lots.

Where farmland that has been degraded through unsustainable farming practices is developed for lifestyle living, there may be an opportunity to restore the land. This can be achieved through the protection of important habitats such as wetlands, riparian margins and dunelands. Excluding stock from remnant native vegetation will allow seedlings to survive and regeneration to take place.

Replanting with indigenous species, and the ongoing control of weeds and animal pests, will contribute towards restoration of the natural character of the property. Provision can be made for formal public access in areas where no or only informal access was previously available. Such opportunities need to be carefully identified and planned for, in order to ensure that a substantial net benefit to the environment is achieved.

Last updated at 2:12PM on February 25, 2015