Rockwell welcomes new global standards

Rockwell are pleased to welcome today’s announcement of the publication of new global guidance on the measurement of development land by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Lead authored by Rockwell’s Executive Director, Jonathan Manns, the guidance sets new international standards for the measurement of development land from purchase to planning, construction and sale. 

The guidance remedies an historic lack of clarity on measurement terms, which underpin everything from ownership and valuation to appraisal and delivery, with well-established terminology having previously had no standard definitions. Coming into effect from August 2021, the guidance is now available for reference and will be used by planners, surveyors, developers, architects, government and legal administrators around the world. It formalises five core definitions which are: 

  • Land Ownership Area (LOA): an area of land, measured on a horizontal plane, which is 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 SA. 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. 

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 SA, expressed as a percentage.

The guidance also seeks to provide clarity on the density. A key difference for practitioners to arise from 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.

The formal Guidance for Land Measurement can be read here

Rockwell’s Executive Director, Jonathan Manns FRTPI FRICS, who lead-authored the guidance, 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 it establishes 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.”

With over 130,000 qualified and trainee professionals, the RICS promotes and enforces the highest international standards across the built and natural environment.

Tony Mulhall MRICS, Associate Director of the Land Professional Group at the RICS, stated: 

“This guidance offers a consistent way to measure land – whether that’s delivering desperately needed homes, new infrastructure or preparing vacant spaces for future development.”

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