Definition of "Master plan"

Wyndie  Butler real estate agent

Written by

Wyndie Butlerelite badge icon

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Pensacola

Through the master plan definition, we can understand it’s a plan describing both through narrative and maps the overall land use of a designated urban area. It includes both present property usage as well as future land development plans. Private developers can develop a master plan to guide their overall development plans. Governments create master plans to help guide the development of property zoning use designations.

However, it’s important to note that master plans are used not only by private developers for residential neighborhoods but also by city planners. We can see this in cities like the US capital, Washington D.C. or Savannah, GA, and master-planned communities like The Villages, Florida.

How does a Master Plan Work?

To design a master plan as a conceptual layout that also considers future growth and development of a new city, community, or neighborhood, those that make it need to acknowledge the needs of the area. They cannot do it independently, whether they are made for a private developer or a city plan. A master plan connects the buildings that may already exist to the social setting and their surrounding environment. 

There is a whole lot of analysis that goes into a master plan. Many inputs come from the public, surveys are spread, and the master plan is open for debate from its inception to even after it was finalized. A master plan is meant to evolve and grow with the city. For this, planners need to look into the site’s population, economy, existing infrastructure for transportation, existing housing and buildings, the facilities that already exist, and general land use regulations. The process is not an easy one and may take months if not years to fully create a master plan, and some of the roles it can assume are: Identify the priorities;

  • Develop phasing and implementation schedules; 
  • Act as a guideline for regeneration while attracting investments from the private sector;
  • Shape and conceptualize three-dimensional urban environments;
  • Define spaces (public, semi private, and private) and public amenities;
  • Determine how uses are mixed and how they work physically together;
  • Engages the community that will be impacted by the master plan and builds consensus.

Master Plan in Real Estate

As master plans have a critical role in establishing the shape of the environment, many residential developers apply master plans for master-planned communities. They need to determine from the beginning what type of a community it will be, how much green space there will be, how amenities are organized and how they work together for the future residents concerning where houses and units are located. They determine  

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href="">building density in the community or neighborhood by implementing a guideline that accounts for the needs of the inhabitants. These guidelines can dictate the style of housing, the height of housing, etc.

Comments for Master Plan

Abdullah Rao Abdullah Rao said:

I want know about master plan in land

Mar 03, 2020  10:43:45

Real Estate Agent

Hey Abdullah Rao! A master plan is used as a guide for future development projects in regard to the usage of the land as well as it’s purpose. You can see the master plan as a long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout to guide future development. The master plan can include analyses, proposals, and recommendations in regard to a site based on the population, economy, physical and social characteristics and existing developments.

Mar 31, 2020  13:54:49
Wanda Wanda said:

Need to research the term “master plan” in my community and the responsibility every owner is obligated to

Oct 24, 2018  21:07:31

Real Estate Agent

Then you came to the right place, Wanda!
We hope you have all the answers you need. In broader strokes, every owner is obligated to respect the master plan when building additional dwellings and maintaining the original landscape. Good luck!

Oct 25, 2018  11:08:31
Dan Omerza Dan Omerza said:

What rights do homeowners have to maintain a master plan

Apr 01, 2018  18:44:31

Real Estate Agent

Hey, Dan!

Thank you for your question!

Homeowners don't have much of a say when dealing with the maintenance of "Master plans". That is because the term is used to refer to real estate development plans; which is something almost prior to the existence of a homeowner, right? A Master Plan is designed considering more than one house, so you can't really call it a homeowner one person that does a master plan: it's a developer. A private one or a government body.

However, there are homeowning rights in relation to master plans. When government or real estate developers design a master plan for a certain region, most of the times they cannot touch existing private properties. And homeowners can fight for the preservation of that area's design and historic landmarks. However, those rights vary from state to state, so you should find a real estate agent or a lawyer near you to guide you through whatever rights you are concerned with in connection with development master plans.

Apr 05, 2018  15:20:46
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