Mr Fixit Property Maintenance and Renovation Services
Property Renovation & Maintenance
Contents Technical Advice Services
About Mr Fixit Contact us Energy Efficient Buildings Building Insulation MEP Design Chimneys & Flues Rabies

Town Planning and Land Zoning

What is Town Planning, Land Use, Zoning And Spatial Planning

Town Planning also known as spatial planning is used in many parts of the world to make towns and cities liveable places.

The plan is used to manage what is built and where. Areas of land are allocated to be used for specific purposes such as agricultural use, industrial use and housing and commercial use.

See also:

Documents you can download:

Sample of a zoning map

What is a Spatial Plan?

The concept of town planning, or spatial planning as it is more commonly known, has been around for quite a while now (maybe a mere 2,000 years or so)

Put simply, spatial planning is the geographical delineation of pieces of land and defining what can be done on that land. The pieces of land are usually called zones and many of us around the world understand spatial planning as the zoning of land.

That sounds simple enough doesn t it?

Unfortunately it isn t, in fact it is more complicated than an elephant s nasal passages. There are many factors to be considered when planning what can be put where and, through necessity, there have to be many compromises.

The Bali Spatial Plan

As an example in Bali there is a master document known as the RTRWP, the Rencana Tata Ruang Wilayah Provinsi or Province Regional Spatial Plan (you can download a copy here), which sets out overall guidelines for how land should be used throughout the island. The authority to administer planning is delegated to the seven regencies and to the City of Denpasar and each has its own spatial plan as a part of the whole.

Factors that affect spatial planning

For a start there are the physical features of the land such as its slope, suitability for agriculture, is it rocky, boggy, fertile or dry, then there are rivers, forests and its vulnerability to volcanoes, floods, landslides and tsunamis. We want to put tourist attractions in the scenic bits and hide industry in the ugly bits (well - some people do).

We must consider the availability of suitable transport whether it be for people, goods and services or materials for manufacturing or exports. Where are the roads, railways, bus stations, airports, goods depots and ports.

Then we have to consider the relationship between the different functions of pieces of land, you cannot put schools next to noisy factories or, as the Chinese found out recently, residential areas near dangerous material stores. People need to be near to their local services such as shops, schools hospitals and government services.

But then in Bali one of the most important aspects of planning are the religious considerations. As we said in a recent article on Balinese architecture the layout of houses, towns and villages is carefully designed to follow Tri Angga (see the article on Balinese architecture on the mrfixit website).

Obviously such a complex planning process must involve endless trade offs but at the end of the day the aim is to look after the needs of the people as much as possible and provide them with the facilities they need while giving them the protection they deserve.

Spatial Planning Protects Your Assets

Unfortunately many people building homes or running businesses see spatial planning and land zoning as negative, a constraint that limits what they can do. I suggest to you that this is the wrong approach.

The zoning of your land is, in fact, a positive. It provides (or should provide) protection for you from people who would want to build inappropriate buildings or set up noxious industries next door. The bottom line is that effective zoning protects the value of your land.

We are all aware that when you decide to build something on a piece of land you must first get an IMB (a building permit). When we apply for a building permit the essential first stage in the process is to check the  zoning  of the land to make sure that town planning regulations permit the proposed use that is being applied for.

The problems start to arise when people disregard the planning regulations and start building huge warehouses or workshops in the middle of ricefields or noisy businesses in residential areas (ever tried to sleep with a welding shop next door). Those who bypass the IMB process (and many do) are, in fact, weakening the system which in turn threatens all of us and the future of Bali. The evidence is all around us and plain to see.

For anyone buying or leasing land or property the IMB is a very important document and because of the interdependence between the IMB and the land zoning it is a good idea to proceed with caution and keep within the legal guidelines no matter how difficult it may seem.

If you are buying or leasing land (remember that foreigners cannot own land in Indonesia) then you need to make sure a  due diligence  is properly carried out and this must include checking the land zoning.

It is in our best interests to support and urge adherence to the spatial plan.

A Geographical Map and a document defining the regulations

So let us start to look at the Spatial plan. As we have suggested it comes in 2 distinct parts. The first is a map of the island with distinct geographical boundaries marked on it that delineate the different zones each being identified by a code (such as R1 for low density housing). The second part is a document that defines these zones and states what can be done within them in terms of a number of factors including the activities permitted, how much of the land can be built on, the set backs from roads, rivers, the beach and land boundaries, the height and style of buildings and other specific considerations.

To determine the zone a particular piece of land is in you need to check the map and find out the zone allocated to the piece of land you are examining. This needs care because in many places determining the exact location of the boundary is not easy. When you apply for an IMB the authorities will come and inspect the land and they will determine where the zone boundaries actually are.

This is carried out at the regency or city level and each regency has its own planning office that administers its spatial plan. This is usually separate from the department that handles the IMB application. For the City of Denpasar these departments are located in the same building and work closely together.

As you can appreciate zoning is a complex subject that affects us all and we will look further at the detail in future articles. In the meantime if you have a smelly tannery next door I suggest you need a plan....

See also:

Documents you can download:

Copyright © Phil Wilson October 2015
This article, or any part of it, cannot be copied or reproduced without permission from the copyright owner.