Subdivision and Esplanade Reserves

The RMA contains specific provisions relating to esplanade reserves and esplanade strips. The purpose of esplanade reserves and esplanade strips is to help:

  • preserve the natural character of the coastal environment (including the coastal marine area), wetlands, and lakes and rivers and their margins
  • protect against inappropriate subdivision, use and development
  • maintain and enhance public access to and along the coastal marine area, lakes and rivers.

They can also have other purposes, such as ecological protection and natural hazard management (s6).

Sections 77, 220, and 229 to 237-237H set up a mandatory prescriptive regime that must be observed in the subdivision process. These require that an esplanade reserve is provided upon subdivision in defined circumstances, unless there is a rule in a plan or a resource consent that allows otherwise. This contrasts with the situation for land uses, where the presumption is permissive and an esplanade reserve is not required unless there is a rule in the plan to that effect.

Esplanade reserves and strips are the subject of a separate Quality Planning guidance note.