Zoning CRE

Zoning controls what a property developer can do with a piece of land.

It restricts property rights and land users to specific allowable activities, permitted building heights, coverage and / or setbacks from land parcel perimeters, and densities.

Zoning will inform the bulk value per square meter calculation. I.e. what is the total developable bulk (or GLA), and how much does that bulk cost per square meter. Calculation: property cost price divided by developable bulk.

Zoning falls into the following categories – and zoning can vary between local public sector authorities (municipalities) or registries.


  • For example office, shopping centre, medical, industrial or residential
  • Usage can be more narrowly defined – for example it can prohibit noxious industrial, or make allowances for petrol stations

Development rights – always defined by the “lesser of”

  • Floor to area ratio
    • Sometimes abbreviated as FAR, this defines how much can be built on the land parcel
    • The calculation is FAR x the land parcel (erf) extent.
    • So, for example, the site’s extent is 3,200 sqm and the FAR is 3.0. The total developable area of the site is 9,600 sqm
    • FAR can be constrained by height restrictions (see more below)
  • Coverage
    • This defines how much of a site can be covered by roof
    • The calculation is coverage x the land parcel extent
    • So, for example, the site is 3,200 sqm and the coverage is 70%. The total footprint or floorplate of the site is 2,240 sqm
    • Coverage talks to both FAR and height restrictions
    • While sometimes an industrial site may have a permissible coverage of 80%, depending on the shape of that site, and usage requirements (for example distribution centre requiring the use of interlinkers), only 50% of the site can be used
  • Height restrictions
    • These restrictions can range from stories above natural ground level to height expressed in feet or meters
  • Building lines or setbacks
    • Building lines are a distance relative to the perimeter of the property. They provide a border within which no fixed structures can be erected.
    • Combined with coverage, they can be further compress the floor plate available for development
  • Parking ratios
    • Parking areas are added to the gross building area.
    • Parking ratios are generally defined on a number bays per 100 sqm of office. This can further xxx


An erf of 4,000 sqm has a height restriction of 5 stories, an FAR of 4.0 and a coverage of 60%.

Applying the floor to area ratio (FAR) of 4.0 to the site of 4,000 sqm translates into 16,000 sqm of permitted bulk.

The floor plate of the property is 4,000 sqm (the property extent) x 60% (the coverage). This translates to 2,400 sqm.

Applying the height restriction to the floor plate of 5 stories means that 12,000 sqm can be built (5 stories x 2,400 sqm floorplate)

Thus even though the FAR permits 16,000 sqm, a development of only 12,000 sqm is possible. Thus 4,000 sqm of developable bulk is not usable, and should be removed from any developable bulk calculations.

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