Global guidance on land measurement for planning and development comes into effect

By the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

In May this year, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) published a guidance note on the measurement of land for development projects which defines common measurements used across the built environment and associated metrics. It will be effective from 24 August 2021.

Titled “Measurement of Land for Planning and Development Purposes,” the guide is aimed at planners, surveyors, developers, architects, government and legal administrators, and is intended to bring global consistency in the use of the terminology applied to different areas of land measurement.

It defines three distinct areas: the land ownership area, referring to the legal land ownership area; the site area, identified for planning application purposes; and the net development area, identifying the part of the site that will be occupied by buildings. Advice on the calculation of development density is also provided.

A key difference with the new guidelines is that calculations of density should now always be expressed in terms of Gross Density (based on Site Area), rather than on a Net basis, with Net Density providing an additional and complementary metric for understanding the intensity of development of a site.

The guidance note provides global best practice, but practitioners will need to be aware of any local jurisdictional requirements that may have superior authority.

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