Why is Dynamic Urban Planning Important?

Dynamic urban planning is critical to address the changing needs of people who live in cities and towns. With consideration of how many people have been urbanised over the past few decades, it goes without saying that the design, layout, and ongoing adaptation of plans towards reaching spatial development goals are crucial functions of modern town or city and regional planners.

But what is urban planning and why should you care? Read on as we walk you through the basic elements of this important function. To put the importance of organised city development into perspective, let’s look at population growth first.

Growing city population

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the 2020-2030 decade almost 50% of the World Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will take place in 400 megacities around the globe. There are thousands of cities globally and billions of people on the earth.

Most of the world’s economic activity will in the near future be centred in huge cities. If these cities are not properly planned and developed to house the growing urban population, facilitate economic activities and do so in a sustainable manner, then chaos is on the horizon within ten years.

Large stretches of land are not inhabited today, but the growing concentration of human and economic activities in cities, make city planning one of the most important functions for ensuring sustainable living in future.

What’s the main goal of urban planning?

The idea behind the function is to achieve organised development of towns and cities in a manner that supports the wellbeing of current and future residents. To enjoy optimal wellbeing, the environment in which people live and work must be pollution-free, structured to allow for reduced travel time, and made to facilitate and promote the safety and security of residents.

Stormwater drainage systems, road infrastructure development, and creation of activity zones may seem unrelated to safety and security at first. But without proper planning for stormwater drainage, flooding risk increases. With flooding of properties and roads, people lose their homes, vehicles and, in some instances, their loved ones. Destruction of infrastructure causes issues with transportation, which can lead to economic disruption and social unrest. Just from this example, you can see how lacking in one area of urban planning can cause havoc with a ripple effect.

Therefore, proper organisation of infrastructure, essential services and utilities—including sewage, water treatment, traffic control, and transportation is vital for developing and sustaining economic and socially healthy living areas.

Three important elements to consider

Urban planners consider the physical, economic and social elements in their layout, design, development, and improvement plans for cities.

Physical characteristics

Aspects like climate, distance from water and food resources, together with location in terms of surrounding topographical features and geological factors are important. How far is the town or city from a constant supply of water? Is it located on a plane or in the mountains? It is on the coast? How warm or cold is the region? Is there a risk of flooding because of its location on the banks of a river? Is it located in a windy area like parts of Cape Town, Saldanha Bay or Port Elizabeth?

Economical elements

People group together in areas because the resources required for economic activity are available in the areas, and so is the infrastructure to support economic activity. Town or city planners take into consideration where people stay in relation to where industries and commercial centres are located. The infrastructure must make it possible to sustain and grow the economic activities. A city where employment is low, potentially risk decay, unrest, and an increase in its economic inactive population.

Social factors

With so many humans in one area, it also means competition for resources, many people to house and who need access to education facilities, essential services, health centres, and transportation. If a large portion of the city’s population lives in informal settlements without electricity connections and running water, the risk for disease, unrest and crime increases. Urban planning must make provision for high-density housing, balanced service delivery and overall improvement of the wellbeing of residents.

To conclude

The quality of life, reduced environmental impact, improved structures to support economic activity and responsible usage of resources form part of the sustainable urban planning goals.

The Practice Group provides a range of urban planning services to achieve these and related goals. Reach out for more information on how we can help.