Where Did This Subdivision Come From?

We often hear from residents that new subdivisions are popping up out of nowhere in the City of London. In fact, it likely has taken anywhere from 5 to over 10 years to get approvals in place for building permits to be issued for a new subdivision.

The beginning of the development process requires the creation of the Initial Proposal Report (IPR). This report is prepared by the Developer (Applicant) and submitted to the City during the consultation stage of the Subdivision Approval Process.

The Initial Proposal Report is a summary report that documents key assumptions made by the Developer regarding planning rationale and servicing issues. It typically consists of several pages of text; plus, any financial requirements the developer may have to pay to the City. Submission of the Initial Proposal Report constitutes the Developer’s formal request to initiate mandatory pre-consultation. Applicants often have informal Pre-Consultation meetings with staff prior to preparing an Initial Proposal Report.  The Developer may also reach out to the local City Councillor to make sure they understand the Developers vision for a property.

The Initial Proposal Report provides the Applicant an opportunity to document their planning and servicing assumptions for advancing the proposed development. Information and assumptions are based on existing background studies and available reports and by applying due diligence. It is not necessary to complete additional study work or detailed analysis in preparing a proposal report. Identifying assumptions and intentions at this point of the process helps foster collaboration and ensures the Applicant and the City are on the same page when discussing the proposed development. The report also identifies potential red flags that could hinder an application in the future, avoiding delays in subsequent stages. The Initial Proposal Report provides a basis for informed discussion at the Proposal Review Meeting. This enables the city staff to better identify clear requirements for a subdivision application and provides the Applicant with a solid basis for assessing their business plans.

The City has developed a guideline on items to address in the creation of the Initial Proposal document by the Developer. The Applicant provides responses to each required section as outlined in the City of London IPR guideline. Each section provides examples of questions to consider when preparing the Initial Proposal Report. As every application is unique and the considerations identified herein do not represent all potential considerations for a site. The Applicant is to use existing information wherever possible when preparing an Initial Proposal Report. Background Studies, Master Plans and other existing reports are available to the public either as an online resource or by consulting with City Staff.

Often required information or studies have not been completed or are not available. The IPR will indicate assumptions and identify any study work that should be completed either as a requirement of a complete Draft Plan or as a condition of a Draft Plan Approval. Draft Plan Approval is required prior to Subdivision Plan approval.  The Final Proposal Report is part of a complete Draft Plan of Subdivision Application Submission.

The following are a few of the required sections of the IPR:


Provide a general, but brief, description of the proposed development and its stakeholders. Insert a key map illustrating the location of the proposed development. Questions to consider: • Where is the development located? What is the land area in hectares? • What are the intentions for the site, including proposed land use?


Does the proposed development meet the Provincial Policy Statement, London’s 1989 Official Plan, the London Plan, and the current zoning by-law? If not, what amendments to local approved planning regulations does the Developer expect to make or need to make during the application process.

Existing Conditions:

Describe existing features and characteristics of the site and adjacent properties. If a subsection noted below does not apply to the proposed development, provide rationale for this assumption. Questions to consider:  What is the site topography?  What are the Natural Heritage features to be protected? What are the existing uses and constraints?  What are the adjacent land uses? Are there any legislative, regulatory, guideline and/or policy constraints?

Subdivision Design:

Briefly describe the subdivision design for the proposed development. Questions to consider:  Are there any unique design elements incorporated into the design and/or any unique constraints that have a major impact on the design? How does the design integrate with surrounding developments? How does the plan encourage neighbourhood interaction and development? How is the design energy efficient?

Natural Heritage / Parks:

Provide a summary of the natural heritage protection strategy for the development. Provide a summary of Official Plan designations related to any natural heritage features on or adjacent to the subject lands. Review all existing background information regarding the features to identify the specific nature of the features and how the proposed plan will address their relative significance.

The full Initial Proposal Report Guideline is available on the City of London Website under Development Applications.

The development of land in the City of London is a long and detailed process. Unless involved in the industry or a specific project in the neighbourhood, most residents are not aware of the process a landowner needs to complete before a building permit is issued. One of LDI’s goals is to improve the awareness, efficiency, and effectiveness of the development process for all stakeholders.

A Glimpse Into The Planning Process In London

Who decides what to build where?

Urban planning has been around for over a century and has evolved from an academic process to the current robust planning regime our industry uses every day. Modern planning science, principles, and methods are used to develop the efficient and effective land use patterns and development permissions used within a city. Of course, planning is not an exact science, so there is often debate between planners, landowners, developers, engineers, ecologists, politicians, and the public on what constitutes good planning.

The overriding tool used in Ontario is a municipal official plan which lays out, in general, the location and types of land uses. The official Plan will identify the location of high, medium, and low-density residential developments, commercial development locations, along with lands to be used for industrial purposes. A modern plan also deals with parks, greenspace, and other environmental land use issues. It will likely also deal with transportation and issues such as roads and transit land use in the municipality. The official plan sets the vision of how and where the municipality can develop. In London’s case, the official Plan is called the “London Plan”.

The London Plan, which can be found on the City’s website, sets out the vision for the location and function of all the land that is within the city boundary for a 20-year horizon. It was passed by City Council in June 2016 and approved by the Province of Ontario in December of the same year.  All single tier municipalities in Ontario, like London, are required to obtain Provincial approval of their Official Plans as they must be in compliance with the Provincial Planning Act of Ontario.

So, who decides what to build where?

It is a combination of all the stakeholders in the planning of a community. It is a long process that I will talk about in more detail in future posts. The development, passing, and implementation of an official plan is just the start of the process. In fact, an official plan, even after approval by the province is still able to be appealed to an independent tribunal to determine if the plan constitutes good planning or if it needs to be adjusted to better fit the community. In the case of the London Plan a few parts still under appeal.

The overall goal is to create a community that allows for the best possible quality of life for its residents and businesses. The London Development Institute (LDI) is one of those stakeholders who is working with our partners to build a better London.

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