Addressing sustainability issues through land use regulation and zoning

Authored by: Nicole Gurran

The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138894808
eBook ISBN: 9781315179780
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the range of land use regulations and tools used by planners to implement sustainability goals. It first outlines key environmental sustainability concepts and explains how they can be promoted through the institutionalised process of land use planning and development assessment. It then details specific techniques for incorporating sustainability within land use zoning – when land is allocated for different purposes, including conservation – and development control – the detailed rules against which particular projects are considered. Legally enforceable, these mechanisms are powerful methods for promoting environmental sustainability through processes of urban development and change. Yet regulatory practices, which control development by separating land into separate ‘zones’ according to permitted activities, are not inherently sustainable. The chapter discusses strengths and weaknesses of land use regulation and zoning, including questions about the environmental benefits and risks of single use versus mixed use zones, as well as the costs of regulatory planning and where these are incurred. Finally, the chapter canvases emerging information technologies and the potential for improved and more participatory planning and development assessment through e-planning initiatives.

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