Source: Adapted from Cambridge Systematics.
Types of Land Use Zoning
In urban planning as well as transportation planning, land use is the object of zonal characterization. Each land use zone is subject to a series of regulations depicting what can be built in terms of nature, function and density, giving tools to municipal governments to influence urban development. There are four major types of land use zoning:
  • Functional zoning. The most prevalent form of zoning where land use zones are defined according to their function such as commercial, residential or industrial. Each zone type is subject to specific rules and regulations concerning the type of activities that can be built.
  • Form-based zoning. Define zones according to their physical characteristics, mostly from a urban identity perspective such as the downtown area. This form of zoning is usually easier to relate to the general population since it uses zonal definitions that are well known.
  • Intensity zoning. Defines land use zones by the level of permitted intensity, such as the number of residential units per unit of surface or allowed commercial surface. Such regulation enables a level of flexibility in urban development since it permits developers to select which types of development takes place as long as these development abide to density constraints.
  • Incentive zoning. Often part of revitalization or development plans where developers are allowed to build residential, commercial or industrial (manufacturing, warehousing) projects in specific areas through the provision of various incentives such as tax abatements or basic infrastructure (road, utilities, public transport services). Further, developers can be granted lower restrictions, namely density limits, if amenities are such as park areas and infrastructure, are developed as well.
It is common that more than one type of zoning will be applied to a city, which can lead to some conflicts and discrepancies between stakeholders. The issue is to try to establish a balance between the restrictions imposed by zoning regulations and the dynamic market forces of urban development.