The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Resource material › Our Policy Advice Areas › Road encroachment guidance

Photo from Wellington City Council Road Encroachment and Sale Policy (September 2011)
Photo: Wellington City Council Road Encroachment and Sale Policy (September 2011)

Best practice guidance for clarity about approval of road encroachments

In 2015, the Rules Reduction Taskforce called for submissions from New Zealanders about rules they find annoying. The submission from Local Government New Zealand, a representative body for local authorities, noted that uncertainty in the law around road encroachments has led to inconsistent interpretation and variation in the fees that councils charge to property owners.

The Department engaged with the local government sector to better understand the process for approving encroachments. Through these discussions, we found that councils have varying degrees of understanding about the legal framework for road encroachments. By highlighting an existing example of best-practice in this area, we aim to encourage greater clarity and certainty around the resolution of encroachments issues.

The Department of Internal Affairs (the Department) has identified the Wellington City Council Road Encroachment and Sale Policy (September 2011) as a current, good practice example for managing and approving road encroachments. It is provided here as a resource to assist local authorities to prepare and implement policies that are certain, clear, accessible to communities and relevant to local circumstances.

What is a road encroachment?

A road encroachment occurs when public access to a legal road is restricted, or where an area of legal road has been occupied for private use. For example, a driveway or fence which extends onto the road, or a balcony which protrudes over the road.

Under the Local Government Act 1974, the default position is that encroachments are illegal. However, the Act provides local authorities with powers to approve encroachments. For a short period, the Public Works Act 1981 also contained an offence provision relating to encroachments. This was repealed by the Government Roading Powers Act 1989.