What is Zoning?

    Zoning is a planning tool that helps to implement an official plan's policies by managing the permitted use, intensity and form of development. 

    Use looks at what kinds of activities or types of businesses can operate at a site or building. A use could be something like residential, office, or commercial. Uses could also be more specific and include things like convenience stores or animals.

    Form looks at the physical design of a site or building. Form could include rules on things like location of parking, setbacks, site layout or massing and materials for buildings.

    Intensity looks at the level of activity of density for a building or site. This could be measured in a variety of ways, such as floor plate area, building height, dwelling units per hectare, parking spaces, or number of bedrooms.

    What does the Zoning By-law do?

    Municipalities in Ontario have official plans, which set out the long range vision for the city. The zoning by-law is a tool to help implement the official plan by regulating the development of land. It determines 'zones' to areas (or places) of the city and includes regulations for what can be built in each zone. If a proposed development does not conform to the zoning by-law, the City can refuse to issue a building permit. You can learn more here.

    What is the relationship to The London Plan, and where can I learn more about The London Plan?

    The London Plan is the city’s new Official Plan, which outlines a vision for what London will look like in the future. The new zoning by-law will help us achieve that vision. The London Plan was approved by Council and the Ministry in 2016 following engagement with thousands of Londoners. 

    Access The London Plan here

    Why is the City writing a new Zoning By-law?

    The Planning Act requires that a municipality's zoning by-law conforms with its official plan. London's current zoning by-law, Z.-1, was approved in 1993 to implement the policies of the City's 1989 Official Plan. Since then, the city's context has changed considerably.

    The London Plan is meant to be a more accessible, plain language document and has replaced the traditional concept of land use designations with Place Types, which consider the use, intensity, and form of development equally to achieve great places throughout the city. As such, it is necessary to create an entirely new by-law that accounts for these changes and that can better implement The London Plan.

    How does ReThink Zoning affect me?

    ReThink Zoning will affect all Londoners. The project could result in changes to how your property may be developed in the future. ReThink Zoning will implement the vision, goals and objectives of The London Plan – a critical planning tool to help the City manage change and growth over time. . If you’d like to learn about the zoning of a specific property, you can do so here.

    What is a "use" in zoning?

    In a Zoning By-Law, each parcel of land has a specific 'zone' associated with it. Each zone allows for specific uses (or activities). Uses could include things such as art galleries, secondary suites, or schools.

    If you own a parcel of land and want to develop it into a use that's not listed in your zone, you may require an amendment to the Zoning By-Law through a Committee of Adjustment application (related to minor revisions or legal non-conforming uses) or Zoning By-law Amendment application (related to major revisions) Each zoning by-law also has regulations and standards, which provide rules for things like building setbacks or parking requirements. With the current zoning by-law, relaxations can sometimes be given if your proposed development does not meet every regulation through a  minor variance.

    Will I be able to change the zoning of my property through this process?

    As part of this process, zoning of every property across the City will be updated.  If you are currently interested in making changes to your property, please reach out to City Planning staff for more information:

    Planning and Development Applications
    Phone 519-930-3500