Not an Oversimplification but an Over complication of Zoning

The government proposals just dont get zoning. They propose to introduce an untried any where else in the world system of three zones – growth, renewal and protection.

If you are going to introduce zoning you do so because there are examples of it working better elsewhere – like for example in Geermany or the Netherlands.

At its simplest all you do is introduce one category for everywhere – a zoning district. The Type of zoning district.

The CPRE has described to the Mail the system as ‘oversimplified’ as usual they are 100 percent wrong – it is over complicated.

Zoning districts are typically scaled along an axis which describes the degree of intensity /growth permitted. The key innovation introduced in the last 40 years by Andreas Duany (based on ideas of Planning Pioneer Patrick Geddes) is that of a transect – a cross section of urbanism for example running from remote areas through agricultural districts to city centres. The transect is based on local geography. Classically this then intersects with areas of centres of nodes of public transport to create ‘fabrics’ . The fabric zone describing the form and intensity of land uses permitted.

Where there are areas to be protected, such as open spaces, historic areas, areas of natural beauty, even Green Belts these are typically ‘overlay zones’ rather than fabriz zones. The reason being is they doint ban development. Take for example AONBm a restriction of manjor development not development per se. It is still for a local plan for example to allow a small extension to s historic town or village in an AONB.

The gross oversimplication into three zones will cause mass confusion.

For a start will it be the case that local plans will be able to determine the nature of zoning rules they wish or simply be confined to three zones?

Secondly the only real distinction between ‘growth’ and ‘renewal’ areas is that the former don’t yet have roads and infrastructure. In no zoning system in the world do the former areas automatically get permission. All they have ‘as of right’ as the jargon goes is to develop to a certain intensity as permitted by the zoning district rules. Before you can do so however you need ‘subdivision consent’ to lay out roads and subdivide into parcels. This needs a masterplan consent and in many areas a special set or rules/codes which determine how the principals of the masterplan are translated to plot led development. In areas where public bodies such as development corporations do the masterplans they are typicaslly submitted by developrs for approval.

It is helpful for zoning to be comprehensive but not essential. It is common for the effort of zoning to apply most emphatically in growth/expansion areas only.

However even if you are a farm in a protected area you still get ‘as of right’ rules. for example to build a replacement farm.

The relationship between zoning and existing statutory protections such AONB and national non statutory policies such as GB are unclear.

It is unnecessary to mandate three zones. Just mandate zoning starting in a phased and pragmatic way in areas of growth and expansion, where large such areas designated in local plans automatically get ‘permission in principal’ once local plans are adopted. Then there would be a time period to get developmnet codes/masterplan concents organised which would give plot level approval.

They system is typically botched and incompetent by the ministry because they asked no-one with actual experience of working in a zoning or subdivision system. They as per usual asked hacks and SEA Dumbtank axegrinders who knew nothing.

A transition to a greater zoning based system is a necessity and would be a good thing if done gradually and sensibly, and with a full ‘toolkit of parts’ which make a zoning system work – like subdivision and masterplanning consent, and if the system had certain standardisations to ease the transition with local variation in implementation, such as the German standardisation of zones, and the Japnese standardisation of bulk zoning rules (bulk zoning is the rules for intensification.

Around the world zoning systems work better than the English bastardized discretionary system. However there are many dysfunctional zoning systems. To be successful the English government needs to show it has followed and understood how zoning systems work, and in particular the lessons from the progressive reform of zoning systems deriving from the form based zoning movement in the US’