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RICS unveils ‘world-first’ land measurement guidance

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has formally published ‘world-first’ guidance to define the exact measurement of land and associated metrics, which it says will now serve as best practice ‘for virtually all real estate professionals'.

Measurement of Land for Planning and Development Purposes, lead-authored by ‘one of Britain’s foremost urbanists’, chartered surveyor and town planner, Jonathan Manns, executive director at Rockwell,  it provides clear definitions for measurements widely used in the property and built environment sectors, ‘advocating consistency worldwide’. Five core definitions have now been formalised by RICS to assist with the global measurement of land, as follows:

  • Land Ownership Area (LOA): ‘an area of land, measured on a horizontal plane, held in a single legal interest or title by one or more legal owners, which may be the subject of a proposed or actual sale, letting or other disposal, valuation or compulsory purchase, and which may comprise all or part of that single legal interest or title’.
  • Site Area (SA): ‘the total land area on which development authorisation is sought, measured on a horizontal plane’.
  • Net Development Area (NDA): ‘the extent of the Site Area upon which one or more buildings or other operations and their ancillary space can be built, measured on a horizontal plane’.
  • Plot Ratio (PR): ‘the ratio of total development floor area to Site Area. Development floor area may be measured as gross external area (GEA) or gross internal area (GIA), but whichever is used, or modifications of them, should be clearly stated’. The RICS explained: “Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and Floorspace Ratio (FSR) are similar terms, used interchangeably in some jurisdictions to reference the same point. For consistency, PR should be used wherever possible. Where jurisdictional requirements are for the use of either FAR or FSR, PR should be reported as well.”
  • Site Coverage (SC):’ the ratio of ground floor area (measured in accordance with GEA) to Site Area, expressed as a percentage’.

A key difference with the new guidelines is that calculations of density should now always be expressed in terms of Gross Density (based on SA), rather than on a Net basis, with Net Density providing an additional and complementary metric for understanding the intensity of development of a site.

Jonathan Manns said:  “Land measurement is a vital day-to-day component of real estate, and this guidance introduces – for the first time – clear and fixed definitions to assist with that process, in doing so establishing international best practice to be used whether buying, selling, evaluating, valuing, or developing, land. This has the potential to profoundly improve consistency, once in regular use, to the benefit of both professionals and the general public alike, in countries around the world.”


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