Development planning during the eighties mainly revolved around technical activities related to urban and town layouts, the design of relevant infrastructure, and setting guidelines for land use. It also included the control of infrastructure development through the use of planning schemes. Conventional development planning was based on the notion of town planners having sufficient data relevant to the urban environment. It was felt that they also had access to resources and time for planning the developments. With change at that stage being rather predictable, the approach worked.

However, with the fast-changing political, economic, and social environments of the nineties, town planners required new knowledge, approaches, and skills to deal with the unpredictability of these urban developments. Rapid urbanisation and the international trend of sustainable improvement were two of the many factors that changed the face of development planning in South Africa. The United Nations adopted an approach that entailed collective efforts in re-imagining urban areas or regions and for setting priorities regarding environmental conservations, infrastructure creation, and land-use management. This also affected the approach to such development planning in South Africa. To this end, town planners today have to ensure that they follow the principles discussed below.

Holistic Approach

Rather than just considering the immediate future, it is now essential to consider the global picture with preparation done in relation to future generations. Instead of following an approach that considers only a few decades ahead, development planning now considers future generations. This approach is thus for sustainable land-use management to ensure whatever is planned now can make provision for the cities of the future while also minimising the impact on resources and the environment.

The well-being of the communities affected and the health of the environment now form an integral part of the process. The approach has a dynamic character, enabling it to grow and change to adapt to changes in the environment. The entire approach is also focused on utilising the environment better whilst reducing the impact of the social and economic well-being of communities on the biosphere.

Economic Impact and Factors That Play A Role

The urban design must take into consideration where people live and work. Here, the primary employers take central stage. Such employers include blue-chip firms, colleges, local enterprises, manufacturing entities, and local government institutions. Healthy cooperation between non-profit companies and private-sector firms are promoted. All the while, the urban developers must make provision for the growth opportunities in the smaller business sector and allow for infrastructure that makes it possible for medium-sized firms to compete with larger companies. It is also important to consider the social and cultural needs of communities. To this end, cultural and artistic growth must be encouraged.

Social Needs

Though economic growth is the main driver, it is important to consider social factors. Any outdated infrastructure such as housing far from the workplace or long distances between housing areas and hospitals, schools, and sports facilities must be addressed. People living in high-density informal settlements without access to water and electricity often face many obstacles. Risks such as fires, diseases, floods, and more are almost imminent in under-resourced areas. Proper housing, better access to essential services, and easier access to transport routes and facilities that result in shorter commutes to work are important. Modern development planning must make provision for the setting up of systems that allow for improved resource distribution and an improvement in the social well-being of communities in poorer areas.

Tangible Aspects – The Physical Characteristics

This brings us to aspects such as the proximity of developments to facilities and resources. It also includes consideration for the climate, seasons, and geography. This includes the location of water resources, environmental conditions such as rain patterns, and changes in climate patterns as points to consider when designing the urban environment. With an increased focus on the possible effects of climate change, the modern approach entails a greater commitment to designs that address environmental factors such as wind, rain, excessive heat, risk of hail, and flooding. As an example, wind analyses must be performed to determine wind direction, speed, and flow for the design of buildings and the placement of settlements.

The Practice Group understands the importance of the above factors in development planning. We provide advisory services to local government agencies and assist both private to public infrastructure developers in creating master plans, designing urban areas, and applying for land use rights