Homogeneous Urbanistic Zones: Complete guide to territorial planning


Emma Potter

Homogeneous urban zones represent one of the fundamental tools in the territorial and urban planning of cities. These zones are delineated to organize land use so that it conforms to the development, sustainability and liveability needs of urban and rural areas.

Understanding their role and functionality is essential not only for urban planners and builders, but also for citizens who live and interact with urban space on a daily basis.

Definition of homogeneous urban areas

Homogeneous urban zones, often abbreviated to ZOU, are territorial areas that a municipality defines within its own general master plan (PRG).

These areas are classified on the basis of homogeneous geographical, social, economic and functional criteria, with the aim of establishing specific regulations for the construction and use of the land. The classification into homogeneous zones helps to coordinate urban development and prevent conflicts of use, promoting a more orderly and functional environment.

The functions of homogeneous urban areas are multiple and vary depending on the specific needs of each municipality.

Generally, these areas are used to:

  • Regulate construction: They establish precise rules for building height, building density, and open spaces, ensuring that urban development is balanced and respects environmental and social limits.
  • Protect sensitive areas: Designate protected or endangered areas, such as agricultural, natural or historic areas, limiting or prohibiting new construction to preserve the character and integrity of these areas.
  • Guiding infrastructure investments: Direct public and private investments towards essential infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals, ensuring that services and facilities are distributed equitably.
  • Promote social cohesion: Through residential, commercial, industrial and recreational zoning, ZOUs help create integrated, multi-functional communities that support a better quality of life.

Classification of homogeneous urban areas

In Italy, homogeneous urban areas are classified into six categories, each intended for specific land uses:

  • Zone A – Historical-artistic areas: Includes historic centers with restrictions for the conservation of urban and architectural features.
  • Zone B – Completion areas: Includes partially built-up areas that require interventions to complete urbanization.
  • Zone C – Areas of new expansion: Intended to accommodate new buildings for residences, tertiary activities and services.
  • Zone D – Industrial areas: Areas reserved for productive activities, such as industries or crafts, with specific regulations for integration with the surrounding environment.
  • Zone E – Agricultural areas: Land primarily used for agriculture, with significant restrictions on land use changes and new construction.
  • Zone F – Green areas: Includes parks, public gardens and areas intended for natural landscape conservation and recreation.

These categories facilitate territorial planning that respects development and conservation needs, making it possible to balance urban growth and environmental sustainability.


Homogeneous territorial zones are a fundamental pillar in urban and territorial planning, which allows the development of cities to be managed in an organic and sustainable way.

Through the classification into different areas, from historical to agricultural ones, a harmonious coexistence between heritage conservation and infrastructural innovation is guaranteed. The importance of these areas lies in their ability to direct urban development policies towards long-term objectives, promoting a balanced and functional urban environment.

The challenge for urban planners and policy makers will be to continue to adapt these areas to the changing needs of communities and the impacts of climate change.