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Permanent Road Stopping for Purchase

What is an Unformed Legal (Paper) Road?

An unformed legal road, (commonly called a paper road), is a legally established road recorded in survey plans, but is not a formed carriageway.

Unformed legal roads often border or run through private rural land.

Use of Unformed Legal Roads

To use an unformed legal road, for example, for farming purposes, you need to hold a licence to occupy with Council. The licence to occupy establishes each parties’ respective responsibilities and obligations with respect to the paper road.

Please contact Council’s Property Team for a licence to occupy, either by phone (03) 307 7700 or email

Purchasing Unformed Legal Roads: Road Stopping

What is a road stopping?

Council can sell unformed legal roads by undertaking a road stopping. The sale of unformed legal road for private use is a formal process under which the road is ‘stopped’, which removes its legal status as ‘road’, and then changes the land into freehold land, enabling it to be sold.

Who can apply?

Council will only consider requests for a road stopping from owners whose land adjoins unformed legal road. If the road stopping proceeds, Council will require the landowner to amalgamate the portion of stopped road with the landowner’s existing record of title. No separate titles can be created.

Council will also only consider a request if Council determines the land is not required by Council in the future, for example, for utilities, formed roads or footpaths.

If the unformed legal road provides access to a river, the coast or some other public land, and no suitable alternative access exists, Council is unlikely to consider a road stopping request.

To request to purchase an unformed legal road, you need to contact Council’s Property Team either by phone (03) 307 7700 or email You need to provide an explanation for why you would like to purchase the unformed legal road, and provide an aerial photo or plan clearly indicating the area proposed to be purchased.

If Council agrees to consider your request, you will need to enter into a formal agreement with Council where you agree to meet all costs in connection with the road stopping, regardless of whether the procedure is successful, and to purchase the stopped road at the price set by an independent valuer.

Legal Process

A road stopping will be completed under either the Public Works Act 1981 or Local Government Act 1974, depending on which legislation is relevant to the particular road.

The Public Works Act 1981 process is a relatively streamlined process, but can only be used in very limited circumstances.

The Local Government Act 1974 process requires public notification, with the public having the ability to object to the road stopping.  If objections are lodged against the road stopping, your application may not proceed.  If no objections are received within Council may declare the road stopped by public notice.  Once this notice has been issued, the road ceases to be a road and can be sold.

Council staff can discuss these processes in more detail with you.

Road Stopping Costs

Road stopping is a formal legal process which involves numerous costs, making the process relatively expensive to complete.  You will be responsible for meeting these costs, even if you do not complete the road stopping process for any reason.

As a guide, you will be responsible for the following costs:

  • Cost of purchasing the land, with the purchase price determined by independent market valuation. Council will instruct an independent registered valuer to determine the market value.
  • Survey fees to prepare a survey plan of the stopped road. Council will engage a surveyor to undertake the necessary survey work.
  • Land Information New Zealand fees.
  • Legal fees (both yours and Councils).
  • Cost of public notification.
  • Valuation fees.
  • Independent consultant’s time, if required, for example, to confirm the status of the land, or to process the road stopping.
  • Council staff time in processing the application.

You will be required to enter into a Road Stopping Agreement, agreeing to pay the purchase price of the land, as well as all costs involved in the road stopping process, before Council will proceed with your application.