Why Urban and Regional Planning Is Essential to Prevent Unorganised Development

Urban and regional planning is a combined discipline with the only difference between the two being the scale and geographical areas affected. As such, the same professionals are involved in both processes. An urban area is within the administrative boundary of a city or town, whilst a regional area comprises the region in which a city or town and its satellite towns exist.

Urban and regional planning entails technical, economic, and political processes focused on the design and implementation of land use policies. It makes provision for the development of infrastructure, such as roads, waterways, drainage, lights, electricity supply, refuse removal, recreational areas, educational facilities, and more. Urban and regional planning includes the consideration of factors such as air space, water resources, impact on the environment, and community needs in the development of human settlements.

The focus is on the physical layout of urban and regional infrastructure to ensure public welfare. To this end, all factors that affect the wellbeing, quality of life, and ability to economically and socially function are considered. For a community to function properly within the area of a city, there must be road infrastructure, buildings for schools and government services, medical facilities, law enforcement offices, parks, and sports facilities. There must also be sanitation and public transport where the community members do not have their own means of transport. Effective urban and regional planning thus considers all of the above factors.

With so many factors affecting public welfare, urban planners do not work in isolation. They work closely with engineers, surveyors, architects, environmental specialists, investors, and municipal planning teams to ensure that the plans reflect the needs of the community. However, public participation is just as essential in all planning processes. As such, the planners set up and manage public participation activities to ensure that all the stakeholders are involved in development planning.

Urban and regional planning is thus essential for the orderly development of cities, towns, and rural areas. Even though urban and regional planning is mostly focused on human settlement management, the process also addresses water management, land use management, and environmental protection. No city can function without resources. The use of resources affects the environment. To ensure a future for the city’s inhabitants, it is important to minimise the impact of the human settlement on the resources. As such, urban and regional planning also entails strategies to ensure organised development and responsible management of resources, land, and infrastructure.

Resource planning and allocation must be done with sustainability in mind. If the changing human settlement patterns are not addressed with dynamic urban and regional plans, chaos could erupt. South Africa is currently in the grips of ongoing service delivery protests. With the country’s population increasing rapidly, many people flock to the urban areas in search of jobs.

Thousands of people, many of them unemployed, require housing in the urban environment. With little or no income, they are not able to afford rent and thus build their homes from any types of materials. These informal buildings do not meet any building regulation requirements. In many instances, no sanitation is provided in the informal settlements, mostly because these settlements are built overnight. With no service delivery to such settlements, citizens become upset because their most basic human needs cannot be met. However, with a lack of funding and resources, cities struggle to meet their demands.

Lack of sanitation, electricity supply, water, road infrastructure, and refuse removal in such areas are among the focus points of service delivery riots. However, to address the problems, resources must be allocated. At the same time, resources must be available. If there is a lack of funding or governance of the funding, resources cannot be provided.

It is essential to plan for such settlements, but when the settlements develop faster than the city’s infrastructure can adapt, problems such as overcrowding, unrest, and crime arise. It is a complex cycle, which is why there is a need for professional assistance in addressing human settlement and land use management problems.

Effective urban and regional planning aims to address such issues and prevent future issues like the above by creating environments where organised development takes place that can address human settlement needs and environmental impact.

Call on our professional team to help address similar urban and regional planning issues to help your city handle the influx of people.