Comprehensive Land Use Plan: A tool toward achieving sustainable development

As President Marcos’s flagship Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino (4PH) Program picks up steam, the Program aims to develop not just housing units, but sustainable, resilient, and inclusive communities, with access to basic services and nearby livelihood sources.

Land use planning

The 1987 Constitution provides that the State shall regulate the acquisition, ownership, use, and disposition of property and its increments. As such, the government has a major responsibility for guiding the use of land and utilization of its resources in an efficient, equitable, and sustainable manner.

Faced with issues like urban sprawl, inadequate infrastructure, premature conversions, depletion of natural resources, and constant exposure to hazards and climate change, the country needs a holistic and rational process of allocation, management and utilization of land.

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), as the agency responsible for the management of housing, human settlements, and urban development, is in charge of pushing forward land use and urban development agenda and initiatives. Part of its mandate are the formulation and prescription of land use standards and zoning guidelines, and use of various tools required for the preparation of the cities and municipalities’ Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP) and Zoning Ordinances (ZO). 

Comprehensive Land Use Plan

The CLUP is a technical as well as a legal document that defines the allocation, utilization, development, and management of all lands, from uplands to lowlands, inclusive of the coastal ecosystems of watersheds where the local government unit (LGU) is located. Its components cover the land use plan as well as sectoral studies comprising demography, institutional, infrastructure, transport, and special area studies like climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and management, ancestral domain, biodiversity, heritage conservation, and more.

Zoning ordinance

The ZO provides, among others, regulations affecting allowed or disallowed uses, conditions for their use, and procedures on evaluating deviations. It is also concerned with development density, building height, bulk, open space and other development considerations.

Responsible party

The obligation to prepare the CLUP and ZO rests with the LGUs, pursuant to Republic Act No. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991. Section 20 of the LGC states that 

“The Local Government Units shall, in conformity with existing law, continue to prepare their respective Comprehensive Land Use Plans enacted through Zoning Ordinances which shall be the primary and dominant bases of the future use of land resources.”

Clup benefits

Trust-Building Exercise. The process of formulating the CLUP requires the participation of the community’s stakeholders, whose vision and issues are to be embodied and addressed in the plan. 

Economic Driver. The CLUP reflects the development thrusts and spatial strategies that the LGU wants to pursue. It likewise pinpoints areas where economic-generating activities and major infrastructure projects can be undertaken, thus facilitating guidance to would-be investors.

Resilient Communities. The mitigation and adaptation measures enacted in the plan are intended to reduce the vulnerabilities and risks to the local population, making their communities more resilient despite climate change.

Sustainable Development. In the end, the CLUP serves to ascertain sustainable management and utilization of land and natural resources, embody environmental integrity, ensure food security and self-sufficiency, direct access to basic services and livelihood sources, among others.

(References include DHSUD’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan Primer, Republic Act No. 7160 or Local Government Code of 1991, and Republic Act No. 11201 or Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Act).

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Henry L. Yap is an Architect, Fellow, Environmental Planner and Real Estate Management, and one of the Undersecretaries of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.