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Life Style Blocks: An Asset or a Hindrance to Farmers

The proliferation of lifestyle blocks goes on unabated.

Fraser Farm Finance often encourages debt laden farmers to selling off non-producing houses and pieces of land to reduce debt. Councils are allowing subdivisions of farms almost without question.

Now, I believe that good agricultural land should not be cut up for lifestyle blocks. Most life stylers only want 1ha or 2.5 acres for the house perhaps a horse, a couple of dogs and cats. Why do we give them 4ha of our valuable agricultural land?

Last year, the Parliamentary Commission quarterly newsletter stated that 38,000ha was lost from agriculture into 6,800 life style blocks throughout New Zealand. There was also much discussion about managing and preserving the fragile landscape and environmental issues particularly around the towns including Queenstown and Alexandra. They are now calling it "The Peri-Urban Sprawl".

I own 28ha of similar country in the valley running up to the Molesworth Station. This land is to be run lightly with deer. I am very conscious of the issues of the fragile social, economic and environmental issues. The road up to the house site is to be formed with the environment in mind. There will be no unsightly power poles and the property will run with alternative power sources including solar, wind and gas. Buildings are to be kept back from the skyline, will be natural in colour and aspect and will blend into the surroundings. I will work with my neighbours and enjoy the environment so that I am able to partake in.

Would it be an advantage to see only a subdivision of non-productive land?

New Zealand has opened the subdivision floodgate and I am sure we will start to see it close as some of the regulators realise just what is really happening.

Conflict can also arise between lifestyle block owners and farmers. A good example in my case again, is that my land is elevated above 180ha of a newly planted vineyard. There is gorse and broom on my land that needs spraying. When and how do we spray? How do I manage the relationship with the vineyard owners? And how do we work beside a $15m grape development? Realistically we are going to have to spray during the winter in conditions that do not cause any drift onto the vineyard.

Lifestyle farmers are having a huge impact on New Zealand and New Zealand agriculture. We all need to work together to ensure harmony between the city and rural folk. Lifestyle block owners have breathed new life into many of the flagging rural communities. We all need to work together and think about our neighbours, what we are doing and the relationship we have with them. Communication is the key.


 

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