Challenges to Address in Modern Urban Development Planning

Eco-friendly and sustainable urban development planning has become a priority because uncontrolled or poorly managed urban development causes damage to valuable natural resources, such as air and water. Any type of environmental hazard will also affect the community in the area, whether they work or live in the particular developed area.

In order to preserve life and minimise the impact of economic and human development on resources and the environment, it is essential to address hazards and the management thereof already in the development planning phases. Such hazards range from chemical to physical and biological hazards. Examples of chemical hazards introduced by urban development include the gasses emitted by vehicles, fumes from open fires in townships, toxins released by industrial burning etc. Pathogens often found in water and wastes are forms of biological hazards, while physical hazards include vehicle accidents, crime and injuries in the areas where people work and live. The risks increase tremendously whenever there are overcrowding and poor sanitation

It is essential to address waste management as to avoid air, water, and soil pollution. Urban planners today work with environmental consultants and other professionals in planning developments to address such hazards effectively.

To minimise negative effects of human and economic development, it is important to address aspects such as:

  • Sanitation
  • Storm water drainage
  • Sewerage
  • Waste management
  • Protection of environmentally vulnerable areas
  • Prevention of overcrowding
  • Provision of well-developed transport infrastructure

Urban sprawl is one of the biggest challenges to the environment. Creating a balance is imperative to reduce the effects on the environment. When we talk about urban sprawl, we refer to development spreading of the urban area into previously undeveloped rural land. The urban planner has to deal with the situation of needing more space for the town or city population in order to prevent overcrowding, but at the same time needs to minimise the need to take up more rural space.

Sprawl takes place when more land is needed for development. The sprawl is often characterised by low density development on the rural land surrounding the already developed urban area.

Urban sprawl is caused by factors such as the need for more housing space, and with land on the outskirts of the city being more affordable, people tend to more often settle in such areas. Rise in income also leads to sprawl as people have more money to pay for the fuel their vehicles use and consequently can afford to stay far from their workplaces. With such, they seek to get out of the dense inner city area and move to the outskirts. After a while, the outskirts become fully developed and the boundaries shift. The process is repeated and more rural land is taken up for urban development.

Improper urban planning with little or no control over the removal of trees and vegetation, random road development and traffic congestion can also lead to more urban sprawl. Of course, the ongoing migration of people from rural areas to cities in search of employment and people from neighbouring countries moving to the more affluent cities in the country also lead to an increased need for development land.

Modern urban development planning has to deal with the above challenges and this is where the expertise of The Practice Group becomes exceptionally valuable. With a large team of experts, we are able to assist municipalities in designing sustainable urban areas and to help minimise the effects of urban sprawl on the environment.