Encroachment Policy Update

23 August 2010

Councillors have decided further work needs to be done on the Road Encroachments and Sale Policy review. The public feedback received over the last few months has highlighted how complex and varied every individual situation is - especially when it comes to facilitating Council land sales to private owners - and they need to evaluate further.

Car pad on an encroachment

Car pad on an encroachment

The policy covers how we decide whether to issue licences allowing people to make private use of unformed legal road (often called 'road reserve'). The policy also covers when and how we charge rental fees for such use.

Wellingtonians already hold around 5,800 road encroachment licences mainly for parking, access or outdoor living. When we initially went out for consultation in June, our focus was to explore what were the best rules or guidelines for us to use when setting encroachment fees - especially whether or not to differentiate between suburbs or have a flat fee per square metre everywhere. Once we established a fee-setting model, we would then look at how much to charge for encroachment leases or licences.

However, the feedback we received has shown that every situation is complex and varied. More than 180 written submissions were received and 25 oral submissions were heard. There were some recurring themes that we need to carefully consider, including:

  • the importance of considering the mix of public and private benefits provided by encroachments both in general and on a case-by-case basis
  • the effect that different conditions on encroachments and land quality may have on values
  • the expectations of licence / lease holders, particularly those who have built structures on encroachment land
  • the risk that changes to fees may lead to negative outcomes, such as removing established plants or people no longer looking after land
  • providing a simple, fair and transparent fee system that does not impose major administration costs or result in huge increases in charges.

Some also expressed concern that the Council could be seeking a significant increase in revenue from encroachment land. Many property owners want a genuine option of acquiring the unformed legal road adjacent to their properties at a reasonable cost.

Principal Policy Advisor Bryan Smith had hoped a final report would be ready for Councillors' consideration later this month.

"But because of the number of submissions received and the complexity and importance of the issues under consideration, we think the analysis will take longer," he says.

"To do justice to the submissions, it will be better to take more time to work through the issues and bring further options to Councillors later this year."

Bryan says one important issue that people should note is that Council is not proposing to move to 'market rentals' for road encroachments.

"Once Councillors agree to an approach to setting fees later this year - whatever the approach may be - we will then consult again on the appropriate level of fees."

For more information on encroachments, phone (04) 499 4444 or go to the Encroachments section of this website.