An Automated Land Subdivision Tool for Urban and Regional Planning: Concepts, Implementation and Testing

Environmental Modelling & SoftwareEnvironmental Modelling & Software, Available online 02 July 2011

Rohan Wickramasuriya, Laurie A. Chisholm, Marji Puotinen, Nicholas Gill, and Peter Klepeis


  • We developed an automated tool to generate realistic land subdivision layouts.
  • We tested the tool on a southeastern Australian case study area.
  • The tool does well when streets are parallel and lots are roughly equal in size.
  • We identified the opportunities to further improve the tool.

Simulation of the land subdivision process is useful in many applied and research areas. Planners use such tools to understand potential impacts of planning regulations prior to their implementation. While the credibility of both land-use change and urban growth models would be enhanced by integrating capabilities to simulate land subdivision, such research is lacking in the published literature. Of the few subdivision tools that exist, most are either not fully-automated or are unable to generate realistic subdivision layouts. This limits their applicability, particularly for high resolution land-use change models. In this paper, we present a fully-automated land subdivision tool that uses vector data and is capable of generating layouts with both lot and street arrangements for land parcels of any shape. When the new streets are generally parallel to each other and lots are of approximately the same size, the simulation’s output very closely resembles observed subdivision patterns in our southeastern Australia study area. From this, we identify opportunities to improve the subdivision tool for a next version. Future research will also explore how this subdivision tool could be used in conjunction with a land-use change model for urban and regional planning.”