What is Urban and Regional Development? 

Urban and regional development planning is the scientific approach to allocate, organise, and manage land use and erection of buildings, infrastructure and roads to ensure the best possible use to the benefit of the communities in the area. This is done by factoring in economic, social, and political needs while minimising the effects on the environment.

The focus should be on securing the economic, social and physical well-being of the communities using the area. To achieve this, careful consideration should also be given to the protection of the environmental resources, including the animals, geographical features and plants, in addition to water and air quality.

What is the role of the urban and regional development professional?

Urban and regional planning professionals are involved in spatial layout and organisation of land use that affect the social, economic, environmental and political aspects of communities living in a specific geographical area. Aspects forming part of this role include, but are not limited to:

  • Goal setting
  • Data collection
  • Forecasting
  • Strategic planning
  • Public participation management
  • Designing
  • Analysis

Planners are responsible for organising the land use. They are integral to the design of urban and regional spaces to allow for the location of schools, houses, roads, retail stores, and industrial operations. The planners aim to make the towns, rural areas and cities safe, attractive, economically viable and environmentally sustainable living areas. See the planning services offered by The Practice Group in this regard.

What is the biggest challenge the planners face? 

There is always competition for resources and the needs of the communities often clash. The planning professionals need to balance the land usage to ensure optimal resource and space allocation to meet economic growth, social and well-being needs, and environmental protection requirements.

Addressing the social injustices of the past while improving the aesthetic of the city area and reducing the environmental impact at the same time can be challenging. As such, it’s imperative to analyse land-use needs in relation to available resources and space to ensure current and future sustainability.

What is the aim of urban and regional development planning?

The goal is to bring about the best possible outcomes for the communities living in the area and using the resources. With a sustainable outlook, this entails organising resource usage to ensure current and future generations will benefit from it. This implies the responsible usage of environmental resources.

What roles do surveys play in urban and regional development planning decisions?

The planning and organising decision-making processes should be based on thorough regional surveys to get a detailed view and record of the area’s geology, climate, topography, water resources, and fauna and flora. The surveys also cover opportunities that exist for social and economic development whilst showing which challenges must be addressed to reach the development goals.

Why is it important to involve stakeholders, communities, and policymakers in the planning process? 

Urban and regional planning is about the needs of communities, stakeholders and property owners within the greater framework of government policies and the need to protect the environment. Professional planners need to consider the perspectives of the parties affected to reduce conflict, ensure balanced development and manage costs. For developments to be successful and contribute towards sustainability goals, it’s essential to get the buy-in of affected parties.

What is the strategic plan?

It focuses on creating a strategic overall plan for the placement of buildings, roads, housing, etc. This is the framework creation process. It is done at the top level and includes goal setting, such as making the central city areas more accessible by improving the transport infrastructure.

What is the role of land use planning?

It involves creating legislation, policies, and regulations to govern how land is used. Zoning is integral to this level of planning. Zones are created for industrial, residential, and commercial usage. The housing density is set, and regulations are applied to govern the usage of properties within each zone.

Learn more about the planning terminology here.

Key takeaways on urban and regional development planning

Many definitions exist for urban and regional development planning. In the modern-day, the focus is on sustainable usage of resources. The aim is to strike the best possible balance between meeting the economic growth, social and well-being needs of communities and the usage of land and resources in a responsible way. The Practice Group offers a comprehensive range of planning services in this regard. Reach out to discuss your municipality, city or town’s development needs.