Moving Towards an Outcome-Focused Planning System
What is a Form-Based Code?
A Form-Based Code is a land development regulation that fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. A Form-Based Code is a regulation, not a mere guideline, adopted into city, town, or county law. A Form-Based Code offers a powerful alternative to conventional zoning regulation.
This approach contrasts with conventional zoning’s focus on the micromanagement and segregation of land uses, and the control of development intensity through abstract and uncoordinated parameters (such as plot ratio, dwellings per block, setbacks, parking ratios, etc.), to the neglect of an integrated built form.
In short, a Form-Based Code puts the emphasis on making sure the buildings in a neighbourhood are compatible with their surroundings, while letting the mix of actual activities in them be more eclectic. In contrast, conventional, or Euclidean, zoning code works like the game SimCity—the primary thing it regulates is allowable use, as well as the density or level of activity.
The table below provides a visual comparison between the conventional code (with and without design guidelines) and form-based code.
Form Based Code could be a topic for consideration under the ACT Planning Reform project. Below are some reasons why our communities might want to pursue a Form-Based Code in the future:
- Encouraging Revitalization
- Promoting Affordable Housing
- Helping Small Businesses
- Promoting Walkabilit
- Preserving or Recapturing a Sense of Place
- Stopping Regulating the Wrong Things
In conclusion, Form-Based Codes are an effective way to ensure planning outcomes are achieved whilst providing designers some flexibility to work within the particular site constraints.