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Developing your small block

There are a number of matters that an owner should consider and record when planning the development of his or her land. This is of particular importance if it is proposed to move into a commercial phase at some time in the future. If there is such a possibility it is important to discuss the records to be maintained with your accountant.  However, all these matters should be incorporated in your Business Plan, which will guide you in your development and against which actual performance will be measured.

  • The legal description, plan of the property (with related covenants, rights-of-way for power, water, public and/or private access, etc clearly noted), rates levied and any valuation carried out.
  • This information should be provided when the property is purchased. It is also essential to physically check where the boundary pegs are.
  • The LIM (Land Information Memorandum).
  • The Council will prepare this on request; it will contain information about major planning projects, old drainage channels, etc that will affect the property – it may be out of date and should be checked carefully.
  • The most recent valuation and any property survey reports carried out by you as the purchaser or the previous owner.
  • An aerial photograph of the property and its surroundings whether oblique or direct. This will be useful for detailing many of the objects below and landscape designers also find it useful.
  • Check the Yellow Pages and when applying to aerial survey firms and always advise the road address and the legal description. If in doubt, check with your local Council.
  • Location of dwelling(s), sheds, source of water – bore, stream, etc and any related pipelines.  Refer to the legal description and/or the aerial photograph.
  • Locations of power, gas, water and telephone lines from the respective suppliers.
  • Refer to the respective company; both the power and telephone company may charge to locate their lines.
  • The location of helicopter/fixed wing landing areas either on the property or adjacent to it. Refer to the legal description and/or the aerial photograph.
  • The environment – roads and highways (including type), major pipelines – water, gas, etc, aircraft flight paths. Refer to the legal description, road maps and advice from the Council or respective utility owner. Remember that widening of roads will require more land for both the roadway as well as room for noise amelioration structures – bunds, walls, etc.
  • A list of the authorities you will be dealing with – Council (both local and regional), power, gas, water and telephone companies, mail delivery and rubbish collection.
  • Information is available from the respective organisations.
  • The names and addresses of suitable contractors for assistance with your work.
  • Condition and detail of fencing – location with respect to the boundaries, i.e. who owns the fencing. The location and quality of gates.
  • Refer to property survey report.
  • The type, quality and suitability of existing hedges and location with respect to the boundaries, ie. which neighbour owns the hedges. Is it possible that they can be easily maintained – check with a contractor. Refer to property survey report and your knowledge of the whereabouts of the boundary pegs.
  • The names and addresses of your neighbours and their activities – dairy/sheep farming or cropping.
  • A summary, by location, of the existing trees on the property with knowledge of any restrictions on their removal/relocation, etc.
  • Identify the topography – hills, valleys, flat land (with approximate areas of each), streams, wetlands, lakes and/or drainage lakes.
  • Refer also to the property survey report.
  • Talk to your prospective neighbours about the climatic parameters of the area – temperature, rainfall, sunshine hours, and direction of the prevailing wind. Also note any variations which may result as a consequence of the topography, ie identify any microclimatic zones, such as sunny/shady slopes and frost pockets. For specific crops you may need more accurate climatic records or may choose to include your own weather station in your Plan.
  • The soil characteristics and proposals for soil analysis.
  • Arising out of the latter and the LIM report, the drainage characteristics of the property; in particular, identify any flooding patterns with plans to ameliorate/eliminate the problem.
  • Advice on any special fauna, archeological sites that may need to be taken account of in your planning.
  • Check in the first instance with your local and regional Councils.
  • Information concerning major developments in the district such as roads and road widening, commercial development, airports, prison construction, overhead power lines, new gas pipelines, manufacturing plants, etc.
  • Refer to the LIM report and your local and regional Councils.
  • Tree crops successfully grown in the area of your property. Discuss with your neighbours and the local branch of the NZTCA.
  • Join the New Zealand Tree Crops Association!
Country Lifestyle

If you are a stranger to rural life here are a few other items to think about.

  • The tractor that starts at 7 am on Saturday morning cutting the maize next door.
  • A deep loud rumble that sets off the neighbour’s working dogs barking.
  • Trucks coming and going at early and late hours.
  • Helicopters or top dressing planes.
  • Gorse being burnt off.
  • Effluent being recycled and sprayed on to paddocks.
  • Those unsealed roads and driveways may lead to a distinctly gritty taste on the roof water.
  • You will probably be dependant on a septic tank (unless you have a modern bio-cycle type of septic waste disposal)
  • The overflow of undersized septic tanks invariably occurs at weekends – tanks must be pumped out regularly.
  • How far away are you from the supermarket, doctor, vet or car mechanic?
  • How long will it take for emergency services to get to you?

If you decide to build your home from scratch, think about this:

  • Location of the house: Positioning your house well away from the road will reduce road noise and ensure greater privacy. However, it will be more expensive to form the longer driveway and to connect electric power, phone line, separate computer line, etc.
  • Road access. If you are planning a new entrance from the road you will need Council approval to your plans. If you are on a State Highway you will also need Transit NZ approval. You may even need a surveyor to work out exactly where it should go.
  • If you have a paper road across your land, you will need to check with the council if you can put a driveway across it.
  • Consider the likely need for, and location of, support buildings some time in the future. Possible needs might be:
  • workshop, and/or shed to keep equipment out of the weather and safe from interference.
  • Storage of stock-food such as hay, chaff, pellets, grain, meal etc, depending on what stock you have.
  • Depending on what productive trees you intend to grow, you might like to leave a clear site for a possible future packing shed, with perhaps a mini coolstore, or racks for drying nuts……
  • Plan a turning circle or adequate room for service trucks or your own vehicles to manoeuvre or back into the buildings.
  • Well-planned planting of trees will enhance your property and increase its value.
  • Trees can increase your privacy and help buffer road noise. They provide shade in summer, protection from wind and are useful for drying up wet spots.
  • Trees also protect the environment by reducing erosion, and filtering surface drainage entering waterways. While growing they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, thus helping to slow global warming.Wildlife. Trees also provide food for bees and encourage a diversity of bird-life.
  • Food trees. Choosing to plant fruit and nut trees instead of purely decorative trees makes even more sense. They have all the above advantages, and a selection of different varieties can keep you in fruit and nuts throughout the year. Different environmental niches on the property will suit different fruits.
  • Firewood. Some like to plant a firewood block, perhaps of coppicing species, especially in colder districts. However, if you have fruit and nut trees and shelter trees it is likely that their regular maintenance will supply you with enough firewood.
  • Using stock to graze around and under your trees is often called “Two Tier Farming”.
  • This substantially reduces the task of regular mowing to keep the property tidy.
  • The trees will need special protection from the stock
  • There are multiple choices for fencing. Cows, sheep and goats best suit wire and batten with electrical options.
  • Wooden fences look great but are the most expensive and unless you have multiple rails they will not keep out wandering sheep or goats.
  • For horses, there are new specialist electrical fence options and now even toughened plastic panels that look like wooden panels but have more give and are specially designed for horses which may decide to go over or through a fence. As fences for horses are higher than a standard fence they cost more.
  • Layout of paddocks can be critical – you need a race that runs down the property so that stock in one paddock can be moved without disturbing the other stock.
  • If you indulge in a few animals here are another set of things to worry about – drenching, dipping, shearing, foot-trimming, new fences, yards, water supply and those vet bills! 

(Thanks to Graeme Brown of the Franklin Branch of NZ Tree Crops Association for much of the detail included in this document.)

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the New Zealand Tree Crops Association.
Who is the NZ Tree Crops Association?
Our members include a real cross-section of people - home gardeners, orchardists, hobbyists, farmers, investors and so on. Some are big landowners, while others do not even have a back yard! Some are learners; others are experienced growers; and yet others are researchers of high repute.
We share an interest in investigating new crops, improving existing varieties, and learning more about the care and management of a wide range of fruit and nut trees and other useful species.

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