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Reading a Land Zoning Map

Land use zones and how to read a spatial plan, town planning or zoning map

A town plan or spatial plan states how land can be used and this is published as a map with useage zones marked on it. Here we look at how to read a town planning or zoning map and what the different zones mean. From this we can determine what the land can be used for, we need to know thios before we buy land.

See also:

Documents you can download:

Finding a Land Zone in South Denpasar

In the introduction to land zoning we looked in general terms at spatial planning, more commonly known as land zoning or town planning. We mentioned that there is an overall spatial plan for Bali and that each of the regencies has its own plan which define in detail the different zones and the activities and building regulations that apply in each.

Let us have a look in more detail at the City of Denpasar which, in regard to spatial planning, is very well organised, it has a clear, well defined planning map and a set of comprehensive guidelines that are clear and easily understood. These core documents are backed up and implemented by a supporting administrative structure.

The Denpasar Planning Department

The staff that manage land zoning are in the Dinas Tata Ruang dan Perumahan (Department of Spatial Planning and Housing) while the staff that manage IMBs (building permits) are in the licensing department. This is important because the land zoning and issuing of building permits are very closely interrelated. Both of these departments are conveniently located in the same modern building at Graha Sewaka Lumintang, Denpasar, the staff are both accessible and helpful and there is a comprehensive website at

Before we start please note that the following information is provided simply to point you in the right direction, to alert you to the questions that you may need to ask and to forewarn you if you are considering doing something that may or may not be allowed. Bear in mind that the different regencies each have a different set of regulations and that some are better organised than others. It is also important to note that this information is based on translation from the original government documents and that, at times, translation can be as accurate as a blind knifethrower. Add to this the fact that issues that come up can be further confused by different interpretations of what the regulations actually mean in practice. At the end of the day it is essential that the relevant government officials are consulted.

The Land Zoning Map for South Denpasar and Sanur

Let us look at the zoning map for Denpasar:

Sanur land zone map

This image is a small section of the map for South Denpasar which shows the lower end of Sanur, the light blue at the lower right is, of course, the sea and the bypass can be seen coming down the centre from the North and turning to the West.

You can find the full version of this map here which covers South Denpasar including Sanur, Renon, Sidakarya, Sesetan, Panjer, Pedungan, Pemogan and Serangan. (please note it is a large 4.5 MB file).

Zones have different colours

As you can see the land is divided into different coloured areas each with a code stating the allocated zoning. Find your land on the map and this will tell you the zoning. In some places the position of the actual boundaries may not be that easy to determine and it is important to consult the staff from the department to give a ruling of the correct zoning of land. This is in fact the first stage when you are applying for an IMB (building permit), the department will issue you a letter stating the zoning and permitting you to proceed to lodge an application for an IMB.

Zone Categories

The zones are broken down into 12 distinct categories which, in turn, are broken down into sub categories. The full breakdown of these categories is as follows:

Zone Category Zone Sub Category
LS Local Protected Zone LS-1 Zone for sacred areas

Zone for shrines
LS-2-1 Core zone
LS-2-1 Buffer zone
LS-2-3 Usage zone

LS-3 Coastal border zone
LS-4 River border zone
LS-5 Reservoir estuary border zone
LP Nature conservation and cultural heritage zones LP-1 Forest park zone
LP-1-1 Core zone
LP-1-2 Usage zone
LP-2 Coastal and small island conservation zone
LP-3 Cultural heritage zone
LR Natural disaster prone zones LR-1 Zones prone to flooding and inundation
LR-2 Tidal and erosion zone
LR-3 Tsunami disaster prone zone
RTHK Open green space RTHK-1 City park zone
RTHK-2 Agricultural zone
RTHK-3 Cemetery and tomb zone
RTHK-4 Garden zone
RTHK-5 Roadside green zone
R Residential zones R-1 Low density residential zone
R-2 Medium density residential zone
R-3 High density residential zone
R-4 Limited mixed residential zone
R-5 Specific housing zone
K Zones designated for trades and services K-1

Small scale trades and services zone
K-1-1 integrated trade commercial and services
K-1-2 District level trades and services

K-2 Medium scale trades and services zone
K-3 Large scale trades and services zone
W Designated tourism zones W-1 Government office zone
W-2 Educational facilities zone
W-3 Health facilities zone
T Agriculturalzones T-1 Food crops zone
T-2 Ecotourism agricultural zone
T-3 Nursery and ornamental plant cultivation zone
ID Industrial zones ID-1 Process industry zone
ID-2 Warehouse zone
TR Transport zones TR-1 Passenger terminal zone
TR-2 Goods terminal zone
TR-3 Port zone
TR-4 Integrated parking zone
IF Infrastructure and support facilities zone IF-1 Electric generation, substation, energy depot zone
IF-2 Water treatment plant zone
IF-3 Waste processing zone
IF-4 Wastewater treatment plant zone
IF-5 Estuary, dam or reservoir zone

These categories are mostly self explanatory. The first 4 categories are areas of land that are protected and are not to be developed either because they are to be conserved or because it is not in the public's interest to allow development. You don't want to build you palace on a flood plain now do you?

Reading the Map

Protected zones

Looking at the map you will see a patch of green in the top left corner, this is in fact RTHK-2 and is protected green zone for agricultural use - house building is not allowed here.

In the bottom right the pale blue is, surprise surprise, the sea but note that there is a dark blue strip marked LS-3 along the edge of the coast. This is important and is a protected buffer zone above the high water mark. When people talk about the set back of buildings from the sea it is not simply a regulation, this land is protected with its own separate zoning.

You might also note a little known zoning LS-4 which is a strip of land along each side of rivers and streams, once again this is protected public access land with its own zoning.

You will note that schools are zoned SU-2 while temples, churches and mosques are SU-5.

Business, trades and residential land

Now we come to the main body of the map which effectively separates out land for different purposes. The purple/pink areas are for trades and services which tend to line the frontages of the main streets. Hidden behind these away from the main roads are the yellow areas indicating residential land which do allow a small proportion of small business.

Tourism zones

Between the bypass and the sea most of the area is for tourism with W-1 nearest the beach for large scale serious tourism such as star rated hotels then behind this W-2 for smaller scale tourism such as non starred hotels, villas and homestays.

Note that there is some crossover in what can be done in different areas but, let the buyer beware, If you decide to build your house in, let us say, a trade zone you can't start complaining later when trucks start unloading furniture at 3 o'clock in the morning.

There are, of course exceptions. It should be remembered that quite a number of buildings were built and businesses started before the spatial plan was first developed. A spatial plan has to be an evolving thing, it must change with the times and be adjusted as new issues arise. No doubt the increasing pressure on infrastructure (particularly roads and parking) will require changes in designated land use such as the construction of new roads and car parks.

See also:

Documents you can download:

Copyright © Phil Wilson November 2015
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