A paper road is a road laid out in a development or subdivision plan. Paper 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.
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.
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