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Land © iStock
First global standards for land measurement released © iStock

09 August 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has published draft guidance for the measurement of land.


Once adopted, the guidance will have far-reaching implications for development surveyors, planners, architects and government administrators around the world, as the new standards become global best practice for the consistent calculation of land measurement and associated metrics.

Instigated by the RICS, which acts worldwide to regulate the property profession in the public interest, the new guidance has been authored by British chartered surveyor and town planner Jonathan Manns. Consultation on the draft Guidance Note on the Measurement of Land for Planning and Development Purposes runs until 17 September, prior to formal adoption at the end of the year.


The draft guidance provides clear definitions for measurements widely used in the property and planning sectors, advocating consistency worldwide. The following five core definitions have been proposed to assist with the global measurement of land:

•Land Area: This should be used to refer to the legal title area of land, and is of particular relevance to agents and lawyers as it is the legally demised area of land.

•Site Area: This should be used to refer to the area of land used for planning application purposes and is of importance to those involved in the development process as it is the area to which any permission for development relates.

•Net Development Area: This should be used to refer to the area from which financial value is directly derived, by virtue of either being income-producing or for sale, and is of relevance to development surveyors and valuers.

•Plot Ratio: This is the ratio of Gross External Area (GEA) of a building or buildings at each floor area, under the International Property Measurement Standards, to the site area, and is already used as a standard metric for planning and design in certain sectors and jurisdictions.

•Site Coverage: This is the ratio of the building footprint’s GEA to the site area at ground-floor level, and again is already a standard metric for planning and design in certain sectors and jurisdictions.

Tony Mulhall, associate director of the Land Professional Group at the RICS, which commissioned the work, said this guidance was "an important step forward, which will harmonise practice in the built environment profession for the better around the world”.

Manns said it was "a step-change in the way that land is measured around the world" and would "profoundly improve the accuracy and consistency of measurements for those buying, selling and valuing land, as well as those seeking to propose or determine applications to develop it”.