Purchasing Unformed Legal Roads

An unformed legal road (commonly called paper road) is land that is legally designated for road purposes but is not currently a formed carriageway. To stop unformed legal road, and remove its implied rights as a road, is called road stopping.

To purchase an unformed legal road, you need to fill in an application form. Your application must include an explanation on why you would like to purchase the unformed legal road, and an aerial photo or plan clearly indicating the area proposed to be purchased. A non-refundable application fee applies. 

We will then check to ensure there are no known requirements for the road to continue to exist, or any reason for the road to be stopped. Adjoining owners may also be offered the right to acquire part of the road.

If your application is accepted you will need to enter into a formal agreement to meet all costs in connection with the stopping, whether or not the procedure is successful, and to purchase the stopped road at the price set by an independent valuer (if applicable).

Road stopping charges

The total cost to the applicant is the sum of the costs associated with the road stopping plus the value of the land as determined by a Registered Valuation. Costs associated with a road stopping include an application fee, survey, valuation, public advertising (two adverts), our costs and any legal costs.  Typical costs are in the range $5,000 - $10,000. 

We will arrange for both the survey and an independent valuation. The applicant will be advised of the valuation figure and an agreement in principle will then be reached on the sale of the stopped road before proceeding further.

What happens from there?

Section 342 and the Tenth Schedule of the Local Government Act 1974 set out the required steps to be followed from this point. 

We will publicly notify the proposal and provide the opportunity for objections. The road stopping proposal must be made available to the general public for inspection, together with the reasons why the road is to be stopped. The public has 40 days to lodge any objections.

We may also, at our discretion, consult with other affected parties such as iwi or the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA).

If no objections are received within the time limit, we may, by public notice, declare the road stopped. The road ceases to be a road at that stage and may be sold.

What if there are objections?

If objections are received we must decide if they are justified. This occurs at a Council hearing. Anyone objecting to the proposal will be given the opportunity to attend the hearing.

Following the hearing a Council meeting will be held to make a decision on the objections. The Council can either:

  • Decide to allow the objections and decline the road stopping (meaning the subsequent sale of the land cannot go ahead), or
  • Decide to reject the objections and continue with the road stopping. If the objections are not 
    withdrawn or otherwise resolved, the Council must send the objections, together with the survey plans and a full description of the proposed stopping, to the Environment Court.

The referral to the Environment Court may not necessarily result in a court hearing. The Environment Court is able to arrange mediation to resolve any objections before any hearing.

For more details or to discuss a specific road stopping proposal please contact us