Last edited 09 Oct 2018


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In terms of geography and the built environment, the term ‘location’ is used to refer to a point or area on the Earth’s surface. It is commonly used to imply more geometrical certainty than ‘place’ which tends to be used to indicate somewhere with a boundary that can be ambiguous. It also differs to ‘space’, which is more abstract and tends to be used to refer to a location without human value or meaning having been attached to it.

Location can be defined in a number of ways:

  • Relative location: Described as displaced from another point, e.g. ’10 miles south of [place].’
  • Locality: An area, usually highly populated, that has an ambiguous boundary, e.g. Greater London.
  • Absolute location: Uses a Cartesian coordinate grid (e.g. the World Geodetic System) to plot latitudes and longitudes.

In terms of property development and real estate, the common mantra is ‘location, location, location’, which is used to emphasise the importance and centrality of location. This mantra refers to the fact that, typically, similar buildings (e.g. houses) can increase or decrease in value depending on their location, and that while structures can be improved, renovated, decorated, and so on, or its use class changed, its location cannot be changed.

However, in certain circumstances a structure can be moved from one place to another, in a process known as relocation. This can be done either by disassembling the structure and reassembling it in a new position, or by transporting it in its entirety. This is, though, a complex process and is often prohibitively expensive. For more information, see Structure relocation.

Some of the factors that can characterise a ‘prime location’ include:

Some of the factors that can characterise a ‘bad location’ include:

A location plan is a supporting document that may be required by a planning authority as part of a planning application. A location plan provides an illustration of a development in its surrounding context. This enables the planning authority to properly identify the land to which the application refers, and is typically based on an up-to-date Ordnance Survey (or similar) map.

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