The Importance of Development Planning: Why Involve Town Planners?

Organised usage of available resources is essential for sustainability. Development planning is integral to this process and critical to minimising environmental impact whilst ensuring access to resources for the communities who use the land.

What is land use planning?

It’s the process according to which land is made available for specific uses. In most instances, there exists competition for available land. To ensure that the land is used appropriately to reach the economic, social and environmental goals of the people using the land, it is critical to set land use planning policies and procedures in place. This makes organised development of the available land possible.

Land use planning entails both development planning and control. These functions can only be meaningful if based on proper research and participation by the stakeholders. The planners must map out the areas and allocate land for particular uses in anticipation of the specific types of developments to take place.

Development Planning - Practice Group

Why is development planning essential?

The communities in a particular country, region, urban or rural area have specific needs like access to water, education, housing, and employment. They need healthcare facilities, areas for recreational activities, sports activities and religious worship. In addition, transportation infrastructure, utility services, and sewage systems must be put in place.

The land use and development plans make it possible to meet the needs of the communities, such as housing, clean air, transportation, access to jobs, education, and the like. This is supported by the government’s economic policies and management to generate finances that can fund the construction of the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of the communities.

A spatial framework is created in which the plans for developing the necessary infrastructure to meet the mentioned needs can be developed and carried out. Working without plans based on research and stakeholder participation leads to failure in meeting the relevant needs. This causes over-spending on specific projects while others are left untouched.

For example, if a large industrial area is developed where many people can find employment, then the income need is met. However, if there is no land allocated and developed for housing, then those people either have to travel far to get to work or have no other choice but to create informal settlements close to the industrial area. This is not the ideal situation.

With proper plans in place, the area is mapped to ensure the housing needs of communities can be met with areas for residential settlements close to the industrial area. In addition, services can be installed, water resources managed, and transportation infrastructure developed.

Development planning helps to ensure responsible use of resources to manage the competition for land and resources and to meet the economic and social well-being of the communities. For example, it is crucial to keep the location in mind to meet the housing needs of the community who will benefit from work opportunities as a result of establishing an industrial hub.

Other factors to consider

Proximity close to the place of employment is just one factor to consider. The terrain allocated for housing should be on dry land, not a swamp or within the 50-year flood risk area. In addition, the topography must be suitable for housing. The soil conditions must be sufficient for the construction of homes. For instance, an area prone to sinkholes can hardly be used for housing or other types of buildings.

Likewise, the government’s goals for economic activity, tourism promotion, industrial development and agricultural growth, to name only a few factors, must be considered. In addition, some activities may not be possible without causing excessive damage to the environment. For example, a sensitive ecological area cannot be earmarked for the development of retail centres.

Who to involve?

With all these factors to consider, it’s imperative to involve the stakeholders and communities in the planning, execution, and monitoring stages. Close collaboration with land surveyors, town planning consultants, architects, engineers, environmental consultants, and others, is essential in the creation of sustainable land use and development plans.

Where to get professional assistance

Reach out to The Practice Group for research, mapping, town planning and project management expertise to assist with the development planning process.