The Essentials of Strategic and Integrated Spatial Planning

Strategic and integrated spatial planning addresses what is possible and where it should occur. In brief, it takes into consideration the policies of a regional area within the broader context of a strategic and integrated planning policy for a larger region, such as a country.

Strategic and integrated planning entails more than conventional land-use management; it includes a strategic plan to direct development in order to secure the best possible future for a region. It addresses challenges such as human settlement, location of essential services, and provision for the movement of goods in a particular area. The process takes into consideration how to organise the infrastructure to improve the living standard of the community in the area. At its heart, it aims to strike the right balance between the strategic planning needs on a macro level and the spatial planning needs on the local level.

Spatial planning includes a range of governance applications for the development and implementation of strategic plans to promote the optimal location and type of developments in an area. It is a systematic process to direct investment into developments that ensure the best distribution of economic activities, and human settlement and services. By so doing, good spatial planning achieves the desired development and land use goals.

To explain it in the shortest possible way: it is about choosing locations for activities to ensure the organised development of spaces with the aim of meeting the economic, social, and well-being needs of communities – all while maintaining the best and sustainable use of resources. This includes the reduction of the human activity footprint on the environment.

Strategic and integrated spatial planning policies must lead to the optimal location and distribution of activities to maximise the benefits to current and future communities.

Main Goals of Strategic and Integrated Spatial Planning

The main goals are to create spatial development processes to ensure the effective use of resources, the reduction of imbalances in economic activity, the improvement of living quality, and to strike an environmental balance.

It is crucial to follow an integrated approach whereby the various stakeholders and communities affected by the policies can also participate in the processes. For example, the Department of Transportation and the various business chambers can work together in the development of road infrastructure to improve the movement of goods. The success depends on collaboration between various planning divisions and the people affected by the policies and plans. Fragmented approaches lead to deadlocks in development, duplication of efforts and wastage of resources. This is why an integrated approach is essential for development success.

Whether on national, regional or local level, the development must entail collaboration among the various departments, agencies and communities to ensure relevant and successful developments. Therefore, it is essential to follow the correct steps to prepare and implement the various development plans. Different views must be considered, rather than prioritising one view over the others.

The process makes it possible for governments and local authorities to improve service delivery and to make the best use of available resources.

With the world facing an unprecedented health challenge, governments have taken extreme measures to curb the free movement of people in order to prevent the spread of infection rates associated with COVID-19. It has highlighted problem areas such as the distances between residential areas and places of work, and the limitations in public transportation.

The movement of goods has been hindered through curfews, resulting in product shortages. Long waiting lines at border posts because of screening requirements have focused attention on the need for improved systems and more transport routes and border posts. Is it possible to move goods more effectively by rail between cities, from harbours to cities and between countries than to rely heavily on road transportation? As new challenges come to light, it has become even more important to seek expert help to address strategic and integrated spatial development issues.

Where to Get Expert Help

The Practice Group is one of South Africa’s leading and best-established town planning consultancy firms. The firm has extensive experience in the planning of new transportation infrastructure and upgrading of existing ones. The firm also assists municipalities in the development and application of spatial planning policies. With a comprehensive range of services available, a proven track record of excellence and many experts on board, also regarding public participation processes, we are able to help government departments, NGOs, municipalities and developers to ensure optimal strategic and integrated spatial development success.