The City of London’s Zoning By-law establishes and regulates the use of land by implementing the policies of the City's Official Plan. It provides the municipality with a legally enforceable means of regulating land use, scale and intensity of development. Zoning also serves to protect areas by preventing or limiting incompatible uses, and establishing appropriate standards for development. Zoning by-laws contain specific, legal regulations: For example, what uses are permitted, how high buildings can be constructed, the maximum number of residential units allowed or the amount of off-street parking required.
How does zoning work?
The City is divided into "zones", where different land uses are permitted. These zones are set out in the zoning by-law. There are zones, for example, which permit single detached dwellings, others that permit apartment buildings, or shopping centres, or industrial uses, etc. In the older or developed areas of London, most of the lands are zoned for specific uses or ranges of uses commonly found in an urban municipality. In undeveloped parts of the City, land can be zoned for specific intentions, such as residential, commercial or industrial, agricultural or environmental purposes. Sometimes it's even zoned for "future growth" with only a general idea of what the main purpose will be in the future, after certain studies are completed, or servicing available.
What happens if a building I'm interested in does not allow for a use?
Sometimes there are situations where the zone applied to a property does not meet the intent or the desires of a property owner. An application to amend the Zoning By-law can be made that will be evaluated by municipal staff, through a public process, with a decision on the proposed amendment finally made by City Council. Examples could include adding a second unit to a home where it isn't permitted, changing from residential to commercial uses, or any substantial change involving the by-law. Generally, if you're adding a use or making a substantial (i.e. not minor) change to the by-law, a Zoning By-law Amendment is necessary.
What if I only want to make a small or minor change to the by-law?
In the cases where a change is considered "minor", a Minor Variance application can be made. These applications are reviewed and decided upon by the Committee of Adjustment. Examples of this include raising the maximum height of a building, reducing the amount of parking required, or building closer to the property line(s) than the by-law permits. Typically when you're adjusting one or more of the regulations, a minor variance is all that is needed.