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Top 10 Reasons Why Your Project Might Be Denied

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Project Might Be Denied

Update: 2021-04-16
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On today’s show we’re talking about the many items that could prevent a development project from being realized. Some of these will be obvious, and then others simply defy rational explanation. Think of today’s show as a 5 minute Master-class on land development.


Whenever you are contemplating a development project, there are dozens of constraints that are being placed on the development of a property. Often, the city will say no to a project for reasons that are surprising. I’ve seen projects denied for lots of reasons. On today’s show we’re going to look at the top 10 reasons why projects are denied.



  1. Zoning


Zoning is all about land use. We’re talking primary use and secondary uses. The city decides in its official plan where they want to locate certain types of development. Generally speaking you want to co-locate similar types of land use. You want your industrial lands clustered together, your commercial retail grouped together. If your proposed project doesn’t fit with the plan, it is probably going to be denied.


2. Density


The infrastructure of the city is designed to accommodate a certain density in a given area. Density relates to numbers of people in a given area, as well as land coverage.


3. Traffic Impact


Many times you will be asked to perform a traffic impact study for your new proposed project. The impact of your new development on the existing traffic patterns in the area is something that the municipality will take into account.


4. Lack of utility capacity


Cities develop their plan for utilities based on density. Your concept for that new apartment complex may meet the zoning requirements. But if the city doesn’t have the sewer capacity for another 200 toilets and showers and washing machines, it doesn’t matter. It could take years before the city digs up the streets and installs a larger diameter pipe to carry the additional load of higher density.


5. Neighborhood opposition


If your project could impact the neighbours, you may be asked to hold a neighborhood consultation. If enough of the neighbours object to your project, that might be enough to kill it. Politicians often ask a couple of questions. How much increase in tax revenue will result from the approval of the proposed project? Secondly, how many votes could we lose if we say yes to a proposed project.


6. Drainage


If you take a parcel of raw land and start covering it with buildings and paved surfaces, you eliminate the ability for that land to absorb water. The water needs to go somewhere. If constructing your project will result in flooding your neighbours, then your project is dead.


7. Lack of School capacity


If you’re going to build that new subdivision with 200 houses, a percentage of those homes will have school aged children. If the existing schools in the area are at capacity, adding homes will only make the problem worse. Schools take longer to plan and build than individual houses. So you may experience the refusal for your proposed project, simply because the schools don’t have the capacity.


8. Neighborhood Impact


Separate from your neighbours opposing your project, your project might create problems for neighbours that they’re simply unaware of. I’ll give you a couple of examples. If your proposal is to build a tall building, your building might cast a shadow on residential properties nearby. Imagine if that sunny southern exposure window in a neighbour’s house never saw the sun again because there’s now a building in the way.


9. Architectural Guidelines


Sometimes the community has designated an areas to maintain a certain architectural character.


10. Parking


This is probably the biggest constraint on development projects. Parking takes up a lot of land. In fact, it takes often as much area as the living space.



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Top 10 Reasons Why Your Project Might Be Denied

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Project Might Be Denied

Victor Menasce