Land Use Concept - Surrey BC - Edge Real Estate Group

Last month we launched our NCP spotlight blog series and received great questions and feedback. One of the highlight questions was regarding the terminology and jargon used in land development. For example: “what really is an NCP and how is it created?”. So, in this blog we will be going over 5 key terms that you will hear in conversations regarding development, and that are crucial in successful property research:

  1. Official Community Plan (OCP)

  2. Neighbourhood Concept Plan (NCP)

  3. Zoning

  4. Density

  5. Floor Space Ratio (FSR)

Official Community Plan (OCP)

Understanding the makings and function of an Official Community Plan, or OCP, is essential before learning about what a neighbourhood concept plan, or NCP, is. The OCP is extremely important when it comes to the City of Surrey’s planning decisions. In fact, the OCP outlines a set of objectives and policies that help in the formulation of these decisions. OCPs are very comprehensive and have a long-term outlook. They provide guidelines for:

  • the physical structure of the City

  • land use management

  • industrial, commercial and residential growth

  • transportation systems

  • community development

  • provision of City services & amenities

  • agricultural land use

  • environmental protection

  • enhanced social well-being

We weren’t kidding when we said it was comprehensive! The Province of B.C.’s Local Government Act authorizes the establishment of an OCP.

Neighbourhood Concept Plan (NCP)

The City of Surrey has numerous land use plans that supplement the OCP. These secondary plans provide very detailed land use planning at the neighbourhood level for developing areas around the city.

These secondary plans include: General Land Use Plans (GLUP), Neighbourhood Concept Plans (NCP), Local Area Plans (LAP), Town Centre Plans (TC), and the Surrey City Centre Plan.

GLUPs provide a planning framework that act as a guide for the preparation of all future NCPs.

The NCP plans for the development, servicing and final build of an area. In Surrey, there are 5 areas designated as Town Centres in the OCP. These Town Centres have their own plans called, get ready for this, Town Centre plans. Original right?

Local Area Plans are older plans that the City of Surrey uses that provide general land use information, but no detailed information regarding servicing, financing or urban city design. For more information regarding local plans, visit

Unlike Local Area Plans, NCPs outline everything in great detail. NCPs across the city outline a vision for neighbourhoods. specifically:

  • Future land use and land use policies

  • Parks

  • Open space

  • Transportation circulation and transport networks

  • Environmental protection

  • Infrastructure

  • Servicing

Now, remembering all of these plans and their functions may get overwhelming, so here’s a simple takeaway: NCPs are plans for areas in the city that will be undergoing development or redevelopment. They are detailed and provide guidelines and policies for detailed land use, servicing, financing and urban design. The planning process surrounding developing areas engages many potential stakeholders including landowners, residents, community groups and developers.

Land Use Concept - Surrey BC - Edge Real Estate Group


Every piece of land has a recommended use and detailed guidelines for building. Zoning bylaws tell you what types and sizes of buildings are allowed on your property, as well as the permitted use of buildings on the property (residential, commercial etc.).

But what many people do not know is, zoning also informs you of very granular information such as the required distance of your buildings from property lines, also known as setbacks. Zoning bylaws also outline the amount of off-street parking you need. Authorities divide areas of land into zones where various uses of the land are permitted. So, for example, you may have a block of city property where residential towers and street level retail is permitted by zoning.

City of Surrey Zoning - Edge Real Estate Group

Zoning is a technique of land-use planning that is used by most developed countries and their local governments.


In urban planning, density refers to the number of people inhabiting a given urbanized area. When it comes to development, density is the amount of residential, commercial or industrial development permitted on a piece of land. The units of measurement are dwellings per acre, so the larger the number of units permitted per acre, the greater the density, or floor space to area ratio. Floor space to area ratio is the ratio between floor area for all structures that can legally be constructed on the property and the total area of the land parcel itself.

Density - City of Surrey - Edge Real Estate Group

Floor Space Ratio (FSR)

In addition to density, floor space ratio (FSR) is the ratio of a building’s total floor area (zoning floor area) to the size of the piece of land it is built upon. It’s used to examine how much a development site is being used and how much unbuilt area is left on the individual plots of land.

Here’s the simple formula you can use to calculate the FSR of a parcel of land:

  • Floor Space Ratio = (zoning floor area) / (area of the plot of land)

FAR Map - City of Surrey - Edge Real Estate Group

Important Disclaimer:

The following information is based on investment principles created by the Real Estate Investment Network of Canada in good faith without warranty or liability for any erroneous, incomplete or misleading information. Edge Real Estate is not responsible for any results or the results of any actions taken in reliance up on any information contained neither in this publication, nor for any errors contained therein or presented thereat or omissions in relation thereto. Edge Real Estate hereby disclaims all and any liability to any person arising in respect of this information and of the consequences of anything done or purported to be done by any such person in reliance, whether in whole or part, upon the whole or any part of the contents of this information.


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