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Zoning is a method of urban planning in which a municipality or other tier of government divides land into areas called zones, each of which has a set of regulations for new development that differs from other zones. Zones may be defined for a single use (e.g. residential, industrial), they may combine several compatible activities by use, or in the case of form-based zoning, the differing regulations may govern the density, size and shape of allowed buildings whatever their use. The planning rules for each zone, determine whether planning permission for a given development may be granted. Zoning may specify a variety of outright and conditional uses of land. It may indicate the size and dimensions of lots that land may be subdivided into, or the form and scale of buildings. These guidelines are set in order to guide urban growth and development.[1][2]

Zoning is the most common regulatory urban planning method used by local governments in developed countries.[3][4][5] Exceptions include the United Kingdom and the City of Houston.[6]

The Zoning Scheme of the General Spatial Plan for the City of Skopje, North Macedonia. Different urban zoning areas are represented by different colours.

Scope

The origins of zoning districts can be traced back to antiquity. The ancient walled city was the predecessor for classifying and regulating land, based on use. Outside the city walls were the undesirable functions, which were usually based on noise and smell; that was also where the poorest people lived. The space between the walls is where unsanitary and dangerous activities occurred such as butchering, waste disposal, and brick-firing. Within the wall were civic and religious places, where the majority of people lived.[8]

Beyond the simple distinction between urban and non-urban land, most ancient cities further classified land type and use inside their walls. That was practiced in many regions of the world. For example, in China during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BC), in India during the Vedic Era (1500 – 500 BC), and in the military camps that spread throughout the Roman Empire (31 BC – 476 AD). As the residential districts made up the majority of the city, that early form of districting was usually along ethnic and occupational divides; generally, class or status diminished outwards from the city center. One legal form for enforcing it was the caste system.[8]

While space was carved out for important public institutions, places of worship, markets and squares, there is a major distinction between cities of antiquity and cities o

Zoning may include regulation of the kinds of activities which will be acceptable on particular lots (such as open space, residential, agricultural, commercial or industrial), the densities at which those activities can be performed (from low-density housing such as single family homes to high-density such as high-rise apartment buildings), the height of buildings, the amount of space structures may occupy, the location of a building on the lot (setbacks), the proportions of the types of space on a lot, such as how much landscaped space, impervious surface, traffic lanes, and whether or not parking is provided.

Zoning is commonly controlled by local governments such as counties or municipalities, though the nature of the zoning regime may be determined or limited by state or national planning authorities or through enabling legislation.[7] In some countries, e. g. France, Germany or Canada, zoning plans must comply with upper-tier (national, regional, state, provincial) planning and policy statements. In the case of Germany this code includes contents of zoning plans as well as the legal procedure. In Australia, land under the control of the Commonwealth (federal) government is not subject to state planning controls.[citation needed] The United States and other federal countries are similar.[citation needed] Zoning and urban planning in France and Germany are regulated by national or federal codes. In the case of Germany this code includes contents of zoning plans as well as the legal procedure.

The details of how individual planning systems incorporate zoning into their regulatory regimes varies though the intention is always similar. For example, in the state of Victoria, Australia, land use zones are combined with a system of planning scheme overlays to account for the multiplicity of factors that impact on desirable urban outcomes in any location.

Most zoning systems have a procedure for granting variances (exceptions to the zoning rules), usually because of some perceived hardship caused by the particular nature of the property in question.

The origins of zoning districts can be traced back to antiquity. The ancient walled city was the predecessor for classifying and regulating land, based on use. Outside the city walls were the undesirable functions, which were usually based on noise and smell; that was also where the poorest people lived. The space between the walls is where unsanitary and dangerous activities occurred such as butchering, waste disposal, and brick-firing. Within the wall were civic and religious places, where the majority of people lived.[8]

Beyond the simple distinction between urban and non-urban land, most ancient cities further classified land type and use inside their walls. That was practiced in many regions of the world. For example, in China during the Zhou Dynasty (

Beyond the simple distinction between urban and non-urban land, most ancient cities further classified land type and use inside their walls. That was practiced in many regions of the world. For example, in China during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BC), in India during the Vedic Era (1500 – 500 BC), and in the military camps that spread throughout the Roman Empire (31 BC – 476 AD). As the residential districts made up the majority of the city, that early form of districting was usually along ethnic and occupational divides; generally, class or status diminished outwards from the city center. One legal form for enforcing it was the caste system.[8]

While space was carved out for important public institutions, places of worship, markets and squares, there is a major distinction between cities of antiquity and cities of today. Throughout antiquity and up until the onset of the Industrial Revolution (1760–1840), most work took place within the home. Therefore, residential areas also functioned as places of labor, production, and commerce. The definition of home was tied to the definition of economy, which caused a much greater mixing of uses within the residential quarters of cities.[9]

Throughout the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, cultural and socio-economic shifts led to the rapid increase in the enforcement in and the invention of urban regulations.[8] The shifts were informed by a new scientific rationality, the advent of mass production and complex manufacturing, and the subsequent onset of urbanization. Industry leaving the home was one major factor in reshaping industrial cities.

Overcrowding, pollution, and the urban squalor associated with factories were major concerns that led city officials and planners to consider the need for functional separation of uses. It was in France, Germany, and Britain that the first pseudo-zoning was invented to prevent polluting industries to be built in residential areas. Early uses of modern zoning were seen in Germany in the late-19th century.[10]

There are a great variety of zoning types, some of which focus on regulating building form and the relation of buildings to the street with mixed uses, known as form-based, others with separating land uses, known as use-based, or a combination thereof. Use-based zoning systems can comprise single-use zones, mixed-use zones - where a compatible group of uses are allowed to co-exist - or a combination of both single and mixed-use zones in one system.

Single-use zoning

In Canada, land-use control is a provincial responsibility deriving from the constitutional authority over property and civil rights. This authority had been granted to the provinces under the British North America Acts of 1867 and was carried forward in the Constitution Act, 1982. The zoning power relates to real property, or land and the improvements constructed thereon that become part of the land itself (in Québec, immeubles). The provinces empowered the municipalities and regions to control the use of land within their boundaries, letting the municipalities establish their own zoning by-laws. There are provisions for control of land use in unorganized areas of the provinces. Provincial tribunals are the ultimate authority for appeals and reviews.

France

In France, t

In Canada, land-use control is a provincial responsibility deriving from the constitutional authority over property and civil rights. This authority had been granted to the provinces under the British North America Acts of 1867 and was carried forward in the Constitution Act, 1982. The zoning power relates to real property, or land and the improvements constructed thereon that become part of the land itself (in Québec, immeubles). The provinces empowered the municipalities and regions to control the use of land within their boundaries, letting the municipalities establish their own zoning by-laws. There are provisions for control of land use in unorganized areas of the provinces. Provincial tribunals are the ultimate authority for appeals and reviews.

France

In France, the Code of Urbanism or Code de L'Urbanisme a national law, guides regional and local planning and outlines procedures for obtaining building permits. Unlike England where planners must use their discretion to allow use or building type changes, private development in France is permitted as long as the developer follows the legally-binding regulations.

Japan

Districts are classified into twelve use zones.[26] Each zone determines a building's shape and permitted uses. A building's shape is controlled by zonal restrictions on allowable floor area ratio and height (in absolute terms and in relation with adjacent buildings and roads).[26] These controls are intended to allow adequate light and ventilation between buildings and on roads.[26] Instead of single-use zoning, zones are defined by the "most intense" use permitted. Uses of lesser intensity are permitted in zones where higher intensity uses are permitted but higher intensity uses are not allowed in lower intensity zones.[26]

Category Description
Category 1 Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zone Designated for low-rise residential buildings.

Permitted uses within these buildings include small shops, offices and elementary and

Permitted uses within these buildings include small shops, offices and elementary and high schools.

Category 2 Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zone Designated for low-rise residential buildings with above permitted uses as well as shop buildings with floor area up to

Same permitted uses as Category 2 residential zone with addition of theatres, restaurants, stores and other entertainment facilities with more than 10,000 m2 of floor area and warehouses.

Neighbourhood commercial zone Designated for neighbourhood-based daily shopping activities.

Same permitted uses as Quasi-residential zone with addition of auto-repair shops with areas up to 300 m2.

Commercial zone Designated for banks, cinemas and department stores.

Same permitted uses as Neighbourhood commercial zone with addition of public bathhouses

Quasi-industrial Designated for light industrial and service facilities.

Same permitted uses as Commercial zone with addition of factories with some possible danger of environmental degradation.

Industrial zone Designated for factories.

Residences and shopping can be constructed but schools, hospitals and hotels are impermissible

Exclusively industrial Designated for factories. All non-factory uses are impermissible.

New Zealand<

Same permitted uses as Quasi-residential zone with addition of auto-repair shops with areas up to 300 m2.

Commercial zone Designated for banks, cinemas and department stores.

Same permitted uses

Same permitted uses as Neighbourhood commercial zone with addition of public bathhouses

Quasi-industrial Designated for light industrial and service faciliti

Same permitted uses as Commercial zone with addition of factories with some possible danger of environmental degradation.

Industrial zone Designated for factories.

Residences and shopping can

Residences and shopping can be constructed but schools, hospitals and hotels are impermissible

Exclusively industrial Designated for fact

New Zealand's planning system is grounded in effects-based Performance Zoning under the Resource Management Act.

Singapore

The framework for governing land uses in Singapore is administered by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) through the Master Plan.[27] The Master Plan is a statutory document divided into two sections: the plans and the Written Statement. The plans show the land use zoning allowed across Singapore, while the Written Statement provides a written explanation of the zones available and their allowed uses.

The Philippines

The zoning system in the Philippines is explained in the Zoning Ordinance laid out by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), and the cities and municipalities

The zoning system in the Philippines is explained in the Zoning Ordinance laid out by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), and the cities and municipalities are responsible for regulating land use through ordinances created by each local government unit. The Philippine zoning system is divided into 11 types based on density and usage, and emphasizes the most suitable use and orderliness of the community. Definition of each density may differ between the ordinances of the local government units concerned, so one municipality may define a light density residential zone to allow 4-storey buildings, while another may only permit 2-storey buildings.[28]

Type Description
Residential Intended or primarily used for housing. May be divided into low, medium, or high density areas.
Socialized housing Mostly intended for housing underprivileged citizens, such as

Under the police power rights, state governments may exercise over private real property. With this power, special laws and regulations have long been made restricting the places where particular types of business can be carried on. In 1904, Los Angeles established the nation's first land-use restrictions for a portion of the city.[29][30] New York City adopted the first zoning regulations to apply city-wide in 1916.

The constitutionality of zoning ordinances was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1926 case Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co. Among large populated cities in the United States, Houston is unique in having no zoning ordinances.[31] Rather, land use is regulated by other means.[32]

Scale

Early zoning practices were subtle and often debated. Some claim the practices started in the 1920s[33] while others suggest the birth of zoning occurred in New York in 1916.[34] Both of these examples for the start of zoning, however, were urban cases. Zoning becomes an increasing legal force as it continues to expand in its geographical range through its introduction in other urban centres and use in larger political and geographical boundaries. Regional zoning was the next step in increased geographical size of areas under zoning laws.[35] A major difference between urban zoning and regional zoning was that "regional areas consequently seldom bear direct relationship to arbitrary political boundaries".[35] This form of zoning also included rural areas which was counter-intuitive to the theory that zoning was a result of population density.[35] Finally, zoning also expanded again but back to a political boundary again with state zoning.[35]

The constitutionality of zoning ordinances was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1926 case Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co. Among large populated cities in the United States, Houston is unique in having no zoning ordinances.[31] Rather, land use is regulated by other means.[32]

Early zoning practices were subtle and often debated. Some claim the practices started in the 1920s[33] while others suggest the birth of zoning occurred in New York in 1916.[34] Both of these examples for the start of zoning, however, were urban cases. Zoning becomes an increasing legal force as it continues to expand in its geographical range through its introduction in other urban centres and use in larger political and geographical boundaries. Regional zoning was the next step in increased geographical size of areas under zoning laws.[35] A major difference between urban zoning and regional zoning was that "regional areas consequently seldom bear direct relationship to arbitrary political boundaries".[35] This form of zoning also included rural areas which was counter-intuitive to the theory that zoning was a result of population density.[35] Finally, zoning also expanded again but back to a political boundary again with state zoning.[35]

Types in use in the United States