The term land use planning is essentially used to refer to the various measures to take so as to ensure that land is efficiently and effectively used in a way that prevents conflicts. Accordingly, planning is a significant instrument (affecting) regulating development, land uses, and the communities’ needs besides being affected by political, economic, social and environmental factors. It is also concerned about design and organisation of urban areas by creating plans for the future (Princeton University, 2010). Land use planning has been implemented by most governments as a way of managing the development of land that is within their area of jurisdiction. Through planning regulation and their relations to various aspects, governments are in a position to control and manage both built and natural environment. Some of the common ways of land use planning include; assessing the land for water potential, possible alternative uses for the land, as well as the appropriate social and economic applications of the land.
This involves historic, cultural, economic, environmental and social aspects. Land use planning could take six main different forms depending on several factors related to the land. The first form is the traditional or rather known as comprehensive planning which is centred on producing facts on the new development bound to take place on the land. Democratic planning is an ancient type of planning that was focalised on class and race differences. Advocacy and equity planning on the other hand looks at matters of the community, this is by addressing the social issues. Systems’ planning cares less about the physical plan and instead focuses on future land use. Strategic planning is driven towards the recognition of the minute objectives and the real hurdles faced on the global land. Lastly, is the environmental planning which is based on the ecological and social impacts of land. This essay is therefore an exploration of the objects of planning focusing on several reasons that make land use zoning essential. The terms of the implementation of government planning policies and many alternative mechanisms will also be covered in the essay.
Regulation of development through planning laws
There are several objects of using planning laws in order to regulate developments. The first object is the provision of a basic standard of amenity. According to Whitehouse (1993) the fundamental object of planning is the development and protection of amenity. Secondly, the management of development seems to be an important objective of implementing planning regulation systems. For instance, the Department of Local Government and Planning (2011) reported that in Queensland the improvement of management and development is an object of planning across the state. In addition, regulating and controlling land uses and property rights is also part of the purposes of planning. Moreover, Whitehouse (1993) states that the main roles of planning system include the regulation of both land uses and developments. The provision of a guideline for future development and dealing with various changes are part of these reasons. In other words, by planning regulation development, it would be possible to create and improve plans in order to regulate future development and land uses besides guiding the potential changes (The Scottish Government, 2011).
According to section five of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act of 1979 the three main objectives of regulation of development through planning are stipulated. The first objective is that of promoting the social aspects and economic welfare of the community while at the same enhancing environmental conservation. The resources in question for enhancing conservation of the environment include; water, forests, the land as well as the artificial resources such as towns and villages. The second objective in the Act is that of having the utilities, facilities and services provided to the community regulated. Common examples of such utilities include; hospitals, parks, educational institutions and playgrounds among others. These can be regulated by creation of standards that will enhance environmental conservation, for instance by regulation the number of housing to be erected in a given area, would influence the population of the same area. This therefore is an indication that the regulation of an area’s dwellings/ housing influences the demographic information of such an area. In addition to this, the environmental planning laws not only regulate the planning division but also play a key role of participation in public responsibility (NSW EP&A Act 1979).
Essentiality of Land use zoning to planning
Zoning in other terms land use regulations comes about as a result of land use planning. The two are not one and the same thing as zoning is normally used as a tool through which land use plans are implemented. Therefore, land use zoning is by far a very significant factor in planning due to the several benefits that it has. This is achieved by creating a balance between the various land uses in order to ensure that the proportion of each land use in an urban area is appropriate and sufficient for its characteristics. For example, by rezoning industrial lands in Green Square project (at NSW, Sydney) to residential land, the number of new dwellings or housing is a clear exhibit of how land use zoning would play an essential or rather vital role as an effective instrument to balance between the estimated increase in Sydney’s population. This in turn means higher demand for housing, and the numbers of dwellings that would be supplied. Moreover, another reason behind the significance of land use zoning in planning is the equity in terms of services and utilities distribution by both zoning and rezoning lands that goes beyond various urban areas’ scales. To add on this, land use zoning has been depicted to deliver protection to heritage items. This protection involves Aboriginal heritage as one of the core issues included by land use (Farrier & Stein, 2006, pp. 1-17).
In addition, the direction of the future development can be determined (driven) by land use zoning. In other words, governments have an ability to control and regulate expected developments by rezoning some land uses within a specific area in order to attract more investors and projects. In Green Square project, for example, the lands, which have been rezoned to various land uses including residential (approximately 149,000 square meters) and commercial uses (about 59,000 square meters), have attracted Corporations to invest in these areas of Sydney. The correlation between land value and its uses can clarify the significance of land use zoning. For instance, rezoning these lands in Green Square has affected housing values which have increased by 14 per cent and unit prices by 20 per cent since 2006 (The Australian property Monitors, cited in West & Davey 2011). Moreover, there are several sorts of problems and conflicts solved by land use planning. The implementation of land use planning can provide effective solutions for problems such as soil erosion, insufficient agricultural production and low income in rural households (Amler et al. 1999). It can thus be noted that the importance of land use zoning can be reflected by the aforementioned reasons.
Government Planning Policies
The issue of land use policies and regulations has affected many countries thus involving the intervention of public agencies both at the state and local levels. The governments have however been in the limelight of these through the help of the Public Works, Land, Urban Development and the Planning ministries of each and every state. Most of the policies put in place are under the jurisdiction of the local planning department or the commission of planning in the government. Looking at the terms of implementing government planning policies, there are several mechanisms involved. First of all, the provision of specific zoning control for a specific location is one of the mechanisms used. In other words, zoning is normally based on a place which means that each place can get a unique zoning control. Moreover, offset mechanism can be considered as a part of these alternative mechanisms.
In addition, the environmental offsets seem to be an example of this sort of mechanisms. According to the Environment Protection Authority (2011) the environmental offsets can be defined as an action providing a positive compensation for the environmental impact related to development and its scheme’s aim to protect the environment. Moreover, there are several schemes within Australia involved in the New South Wales (NSW), Queensland and the Northern Territory schemes. For instance, since 2002 the New South Wales has its environmental offsets schemes called “green offset scheme”, which is looking forward to achieve sustainable development not by just having economic development but also environmental protection (The Office of Environment and Heritage, 2002). Furthermore, financial mechanism is another alternative mechanism that can be used to encourage land uses. This can be implemented by allocating a certain zone for economic zone to enhance development in those places. In addition to these alternative mechanisms, using market place mechanism is also one of the mechanisms used in order to attract more developers to provide certain land uses.
From the above discussion, it is clear that planning is an inevitable process in places where land is in use. This is because without proper planning, the land will be misused to the extent of even destroying the natural resources located on that specific land. For instance, inadequate planning that eventually leads to improper housing thus overpopulation has environmental impacts of factors such as pollution among others.
As such it is also clear that there are many objectives of planning for land use. Some of these include; the provision of amenity, the management of development, the regulation and control of land uses and property rights, the provision of a future guideline, dealing with various changes, guiding the potential changes, the promotion of social aspects and economic welfare, the enhancement of natural resources, the provision and regulation of utilities, services and facilities, and the regulation of housing. Looking at the significance of land use zoning, there are some reasons make it essential. These involve balancing various land uses, the equity in services and utilities distribution, development that can be determined or driven by land use zoning, the correlation between land value and land uses, as well as the provision of effective solutions for problems. Furthermore, zoning based on places (locality), offset mechanism, financial mechanism and market place mechanism are some alternative mechanisms used in the implementation of government planning policies.
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David Farrier and Paul Stein (eds.). “The scope of environmental law,” (2006).The Environmental Law Handbook, Sydney: Redfern Legal Centre, pp. 1-17.
Department of Local Government and Planning. The State of Queensland. (2011) Web.
NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. (1979). Web.
Princeton University. Princeton University, USA, (2011). Web.
The Environment Protection Authority. ‘Submission on the Draft Northern Territory Environmental Offsets Policy. (2011). Web.
The Office of Environment and Heritage. The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Green Offsets for Sustainable Regional Development: Concept Paper”. (2002) Web.
The Scottish Government. Scottish Planning System. (2011) Web.
West, A and Davey, M. ‘Trains, movies set to enliven Green Square’, Sydney Morning Herald. (2011). Web.
Whitehouse, J. The Relationship between Mining and Planning Law in NSW, paper presented to the Mining Law Short Course. (1993). Key Centre for Mines, UNSW, pp. 12-16.