A paper road is a road laid out in a development or subdivision plan. Paper roads (also known as unformed legal roads) may exist only on paper, never having been developed, but they have a legal existence, whether on private or public land. They are especially common in New Zealand, where they were created primarily for future access in rural areas (though in some cases, their layout was determined without checking whether the topography was acceptable for a road). Some Districts are reputed to have as many paper roads as actual, formed roads. An estimated 56,000km of paper road exists in New Zealand.
Controversies sometimes arise about ownership or use of paper roads. Property owners may feel that an abutting undeveloped paper road is part of their property, but other property owners may have rights to access via that road, access which could be developed in the future if the need arises. The presence of a paper road can affect property valuation since there may be required building setbacks from the road, which might limit development opportunities.
- NZ Walking Access Commission information sheet on unformed legal roads (paper roads).
- 2015 Scoping Study on reopening of a Waikato paper road:estimated at $50,800 for 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi).
- "Wire-cutters threat over paper road". The Dominion Post. 2009-11-25. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
- Taylor, Annette. "The Good Oil: Paper Roads". 'lifestyleblock.co.nz' website. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
- New Zealand Walking Access Commission (2016). New Zealand Walking Access Commission Annual Report 2015-2016. New Zealand: New Zealand Walking Access Commission. p. 16. ISSN 1179-5220.
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