Comparing Urban Planning Systems

Knowing the core elements or components in a planning system provides a basis for understanding the way in which specific planning systems work within particular jurisdictions. Two important reference points for modern regulatory planning systems are the approaches which have evolved in the UK and the USA. These are very different systems—one characterised by highly codified land use controls through zoning and detailed local ordinances (the USA) and the other by a discretionary system which evaluates most development proposals on their merits (the UK). However, as shown in Table 2.1, planning systems in both the UK and USA differ in important ways to the other jurisdictions considered in Part II of this book. Both Ireland and Australia combine elements of the UK and the US models, employing land use zones as a foundational form of development control whilst also enabling discretionary assessment of

UK/England

USA

Ireland

Hong Kong/China

Australia

Source of power/ legislation

National/local (also subject to EU)

State/local

National/local (also subject to EU)

National/local

State (including the territories)/ local

Decision maker

Local (elected) authority (subject to oversight of independent Planning Inspectorate).

Varies—from elected officials to independent planning commissions

Local authority (in the context of national and regional planning guidance)

Town Planning Board (authority appointed by the Hong Kong executive)

Local authority (local matters); subject to state oversight & (increasingly) panels of appointed experts

Land use plans

Guiding spatial policy—local plans and

neighbourhood plans (if adopted) must be consistent with the national planning framework

Zoning ordinances and

development

controls

Some states have comprehensive spatial plans, implemented by local authorities

Spatial plans, zones,

development

controls

Spatial plans, zones

Spatial plans, zones, detailed development controls

Development

assessment

Discretionary

Limited/no

discretion

Mixed (fixed controls, some discretion)

Mixed (fixed controls, some discretion)

Mixed (fixed controls, some discretion)

(continued)

UK/England

USA

Ireland

Hong Kong/China

Australia

Participation

rights

Participation when plans are made and proposals assessed

21 days exhibition/ consultation for development proposals No third party appeal rights

Varies (minimum includes exhibition/ submission of draft planning regulations and proposed development

When plans are made and proposals assessed Third party appeal rights

When plans are made and proposals assessed

When plans are made and proposals assessed

Limited third party appeal rights (Victoria)

Infrastructure

funding/Value

capture

Planning 'gain' Fixed levy and provision for negotiated contributions from developers (viability of development considered)

Varies between jurisdictions— 'impact fees' commonly required—must be 'nexus' between development and impact fee Value capture enabled in some jurisdictions

Development contributions required as a condition of development approval

N/A

(development profit finances infrastructure)

Mixed (from minimal

requirements to full cost of local infrastructure provision and some regional items)

No direct value capture schemes

(continued)

UK/England

USA

Ireland

Elong Kong/China

Australia

Timeframes

8 weeks (local planning decisions, 13 weeks for major development) Development must commence within 3 years (after which need to reapply).

Varies between state/local jurisdictions

2 months (development assessment)

2 months (development assessment, including consultation)

20-40 days (development assessment) Permissions expire within 2-5 years but able to be extended

Provisions for affordable housing

Yes, through infrastructure funding

mechanism ('s106') in England

Most states allow local authorities to impose 'inclusionary' housing

requirements or

incentives, or

require them to

accept

affordable

housing

development

Provision to require affordable homes as part of new development projects ('Part V')

Public housing developed as part of government driven land and housing development process

Minimal, states impose strict limits on extent to which local authorities can use planning mechanisms for affordable housing

Sources'. The authors proposals on merit. Nevertheless, under the Irish system, local authorities maintain autonomy over planning decisions whilst in Australia this autonomy is curtailed by state and territorial governments who can and do intervene in processes of plan-making and development assessment.

All jurisdictions shown use the planning process to coordinate and help deliver local infrastructure and facilities needed to support development, although the approach to determining contribution requirements differs. The UK is distinct in recognising ‘value capture’ as inherent to the development contributions framework. In enabling only limited mechanisms to support affordable housing through the planning process, Australia appears unique amongst the countries compared here, although practice differs across the Australian states and territories.

 
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