What is Integrated Development Planning and Why is it Important in South Africa?

Integrated development planning is an approach followed by South African local municipalities to plan development in their specific areas. It is a new approach specifically developed to address the problems associated with towns and cities which were developed prior to 1994.

Problems with the older development approaches are thus addressed through integrated development planning. The towns and cities of old were racially divided, and planning did not cater for the socio-economic needs of the poorer communities. The poorer sections of the population had to travel long distances to get to their places of work and had limited access to essential business services. There were also discrepancies in the levels of services delivered to the more affluent and poorer areas. Informal settlements developed sporadically during the period just after 1994.

A new approach was needed to ensure that the future towns and cities of South Africa would accommodate the needs of the poorer communities as well. Integrated development planning is the new approach followed by municipalities to achieve the objective. With the new approach, the rural areas also receive essential services, in order to overcome the lack of such experienced in the past.

Part of integrated development planning is the creation of a master plan called the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for the long-term development goals of the municipalities. The plan aims to facilitate coordination between the various divisions and levels of government, in order to create a coherent plan for improvement of the quality of living for all residents in a particular municipal area.

Integrated development planning considers the current conditions, resources, and problems. It also takes a holistic approach to development planning. It aims to create a framework for land use, infrastructure development, service delivery, and protection of the environment.

All South African municipalities must have integrated development plans and must coordinate their IDPs, to ensure that the relevant stakeholders in their areas participate and enjoy the benefits from the development of their particular area.

The planning must be done in terms of the master IDP of the municipality, and all projects must be aligned to ensure that the objectives of the IDP can be achieved. Coordination between government departments in the area and the local municipality is exceptionally important to ensure that all the projects are aligned to achieve the IDP goals.

The suggested timeframe for the development of an IDP is between six and nine months. However, service delivery and other developments in the municipal area must continue during the period. As such, municipalities benefit from the expertise offered by experienced town and urban planners regarding integrated development planning. The town and urban planners provide consultation assistance and help with the development of the relevant plan.

Part of the integrated planning process entails annual reviews and changes to the IDP, to ensure that it stays relevant and practical, in order to achieve the five-year development goals of the municipality. The future of the IDP is decided at the new council election. The new council can decide to adapt it, change it completely, or to build upon it.

The executive committee or municipality’s mayor oversees the integrated development process. A coordinator is appointed to report to the committee or mayor.

The municipality must have an IDP to ensure that the focus stays on essential community needs with consideration of the resources available. It is essential for the municipality to make use of cost-effective methods for service delivery, and the IDP helps to create the framework within which to operate. With an IDP in place, it is possible to deliver the essential services in a timely manner and to use resources effectively.

The IDP helps to identify areas where services are needed and to which funds must be allocated for development. It makes it possible to develop realistic goals based on the resources available. With it in place, it is possible for the municipality to attract relevant investments. As it is focussed on stakeholder participation, the IDP helps to create a more democratic process in development.

We invite municipalities and stakeholders to make use of our integrated development planning expertise and services to achieve the above objectives for their long-term development plans.