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Old 02-03-2011, 02:01 PM
Location: New Albany, Indiana (Greater Louisville)
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I am in a Land Use Planning class and was wondering if anyone would mind giving me a summary of what the differences in land use and zoning regulations are between the USA and UK, Ireland, or other places in Europe.

Please be more specific than saying planning in the USA makes cars happy while planning in Europe makes people happy (I already know that)

Some things I'm wondering about...

1. Are there minimum road widths for new developments? Here in America codes require a fire truck to fit through a street with cars park on both sides of the road. Most new neighborhood streets could easily 5 lanes of traffic if no curb parking was allowed!

2. Are their laws against people living off the power grid or sewage hookup (<- assuming the end output is done in a clean matter)? My class talked with people from a nearby Eco Village and they have to pay the same sewage fees even though they compost their own sewage and the water that comes out is cleaner than tap water. They also had to have a large amount of power lines brought on the property despite their 100% use of solar and wind.

3. Are their rules requiring mixed use - that is, having housing, shopping, and commercial places all nearby, or even in the same building?
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Old 02-03-2011, 04:16 PM
Location: Airstrip 1, Oceania
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2. There are certainly no laws against this in Scotland. Many remote properties use a septic tank for sewage but I beleive there has to be access for a truck to empty it out periodically. Having your own drinking water supply from a well or stream is also not that unusual. Being off the electricity grid is less common but I have seen very remote properties for sale that have their own generators - in one case because it was the only house on a small island !
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:16 AM
Location: England.
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The first term you need to learn is "Green Belt". This is why we don't have as much suburban sprawl as places like New Jersey, and a better definition between town and country. Last time it got a mention here lots of Americans were disgusted we couldn't build what we like where we like, but most people here support the concept.

Road widths (a few extreme examples of a typical town near me).
In Victorian times people didn't drive and lived near the factory, so wide roads were not needed:
Google Maps
For much of the twentieth century things improved in terms of street scene and layout:
Google Maps
As developers get greedy and government demand more homes per acre, streets are getting more cramped:
Google Maps

I know a few people with septic tanks in villages quite near towns. There are also a few pilot schemes for those generating their own electicity where they can sell any surplus back to the national grid. As long as you meet building regulations there is no reason you couldn't take the awkward independent option.

Mixed Use.
The only such development I know of has resulted in one of the most horrible sterile super rich ghettoes you could imagine, plonked down in the middle of nowhere:
Kings Hill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wouldn't live there if you paid me.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:55 AM
Location: New Albany, Indiana (Greater Louisville)
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Thanks for the replies. I am familiar with the "green belt" law because I live in the ONLY US city (Lexington, Kentucky) that has one! We call it our "urban growth boundary". To build a house outside the boundary requires the lot is at least 70 acres in size. We also do not subsidize developments outside the ugb by extending sewer or power lines to them. This makes it uneconomical to build them.

Is your all enforced by minimum lot size required to build, or do to zoning?

Septic tanks are allowed here, but are really bad for the environment because of our karst ground. It easily leaks into ground water and caves. The composting methods prevent "brown water" (that's the literal term on the books) from entering the soil until it meets strict standards.
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Old 02-04-2011, 01:19 PM
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Ireland has pretty lax planning laws. The housing bubble has left many towns and villages in a mess.
Also, many Irish people feel they should be allowed build whatever they want, wherever they want.
Local politicians often take advantage of this and defend their constituents' ''rights''.

I have no idea what the situation is like over in the UK.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:20 PM
Location: Oxford, England
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The planning laws and government policies here in the UK are longer than the complete works of Shakespeare. In summary, the Government sets the rules of the game. The same planning laws mostly covers England and Wales. The Scottish Government can set its own planning laws. Then they also have lots of national policy and guidance.

The local planning authorities then follow those laws and policies to devise strategies and policies for their own areas. These cover everything from what you can do with your house, up to plans for new shopping malls and hundreds of houses / businesses etc.

You then have to pay a fee and get permission from the authority before you can develop. They also give a chance for your neighbours to object to the development, but the Planning Authority decides. The government is currently changing these rules.

Zoning is not a common approach here, though areas are "allocated" for specific new uses in Local Development Plans. More often policies specify minimum standards, such as distances between living room windows of separate houses.

There are exceptions, for example for small extensions where you don't need to get permission.

The local Highways Authority set road standards they expect to see in new developments, and normally won't adopt the road and maintain it unless it meets those standards. But the Planning Authority can decide to accept lower standards. They will consult with people like the fire service.

There is a big movement to allow "sustainable living" encouraging people to live off the grid and mixed use areas / buildings. Property taxes are standard across Districts as they pay towards all services, so you don't get a discount. I can't see why they'd need the power lines to live off the grid.
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