Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Can Langley City control the design of a single-family or multi-family development? What about an office building?

From time to time, people ask me about single-family housing redevelopment. Usually, people have concerns about the design and siting of a new single-family house. They are curious if Langley City can do anything about their concern.

In BC, local governments have control over the following attributes of property and buildings with the use of zoning, which is applied universally:

  • Uses permitted on a property such as residential, corner store, or office
  • The density allowed on a property, including the height, length, and width of buildings and structures
  • residential tenure
  • The location of buildings and other structures on a property

For multi-family housing such as townhouses and apartments, plus commercial and industrial zoned properties, cities can also require development permits that control buildings’ form and character. Langley City requires development permits.

Form and character include things such as:

  • Design quality, material, and design aesthetic
  • Relationship of buildings to other buildings in a neighbourhood
  • How the building interactives with sidewalks, streets, parks, and plazas
  • The livability of residential units, including their accessibility
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Usually, people’s concerns about new single-family developments are about the design and the relationship of a new house to other houses in a neighbourhood. Under BC law, cities have no control over these matters. This is something that I’ve always found odd; I think it is a throwback to the day when most people lived in single-family housing that was on larger lots.

Regardless of the zoning, including single-family or multi-family housing, a city can use development permits to:

  • Protect the natural environment
  • Prevent hazardous conditions
  • Protect farming
  • Promote energy conservation
  • Promote water conservation
  • Promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

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