21 Dec 2011

Growth of lifestyle blocks bad news for economy

12:42 pm on 21 December 2011

Landcare says an increase in lifestyle blocks could be detrimental to the New Zealand economy.

Its latest research project has found there are now 175,000 lifestyle blocks, 100,000 up on 13 years ago.

New Zealand has 1.4 million hectares of high-value land, which contains the top-quality soil needed to produce fruit, vegetable and arable crops. Now 10% of that land is occupied by lifestyle blocks.

As well, Real Estate Institute figures show a 13% increase in lifestyle property sales in the three months to November, compared to the same time in 2010.

Co-author Dr John Dymond says New Zealand's wealth depends on the efficient use of productive land and lifestyle blocks are generally less efficient, growing food for their own use and for a few other people rather than for export.

"Our exports are basically coming from larger farms and so as those larger farms are divided up into smaller ones, that food doesn't tend to go to export and doesn't produce economic goods for New Zealand."

Dr Dymond suggests preventive measures should be included in the Resource Management Act to stem the loss of productive land to lifestyle blocks.

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