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.