Urban Planning 101: Why and How to Plan for the Future and Beyond

Urban planning has always played an important role in how the infrastructure of cities supported activities, well-being, economic development and sustainability of their communities. With sustainability being one of the hot-seat topics globally, it has gained an even more important role.

Modern cities still have remnants of old development strategies, but with shifts over the past few decades in the world economic landscape, population demographics and environmental awareness, it’s now crucial to the development of modern cities to ensure these spaces can be viable places to live and work in future.

It’s necessary for everything, from addressing the higher population density because of rapid urbanisation to traffic congestion, increase in economic activity, and the increase in private vehicle ownership. It’s time to look at a new approach to urban planning.

Get off to the right start with help from experienced town planning consultants. View our range of services to get an overview of how we can help you achieve your city’s sustainability development goals

Urban Planning for the Future: Create a Sustainable Landscape

If you’re concerned about your town or city’s sustainability profile, its ability to function in a future where the focus on mobile communication, fast internet connectivity, remote work practices, social distancing and the likes will be priorities, read on for tips on planning the urban landscape of the future.

Develop a Vision for Your Future City

A city can be a place where people go to work, buy their groceries, improve their education and take care of their families. The goals of the city are to give its residents opportunities to lead healthy, economically beneficial and fulfilling lives. So, what would the ideal future city look like?

Although the reality is often less rosy than the idealist vision of the urban planner, any plan must have positive, reachable goals. It must be adaptable but should also be practical enough to serve as a roadmap to the ideal achievement.

With that in mind, consider that the future city has a green and clean environment because it has been built in a way that takes advantage of the natural resources, but not exploit these. The buildings offer natural light penetration, the air is clean and there is space for all its inhabitants – all this while being energy-efficient. And it offers its residents a range of things to do, including buying fresh food, attending educational facilities where skills are taught relevant to the current and future needs of society, parks for recreation, sports facilities, business centres and streamlined transportation. It all starts with a vision, while the plan is what creates the roadmap to make the vision a reality.

Create a Strategic Plan for Sustainable Development

The above ideal scenario shows why it’s important to work with a plan. Start with the following:

  • Define priorities and the strategies to implement.
  • Gain an understanding of what sustainability is and why it is essential for the future.
  • Explore the different scenarios that could potentially occur because of the strategy and what would happen if nothing were done.
  • Map out the desired outcomes and how to achieve them with the selected strategy in place.
  • Prioritise and set achievable goals with a built-in evaluation process to know the performance level at any given time.
  • Monitor the progress at regular intervals to adjust the plan or performance as needed.

Plan the Transportation Infrastructure

The infrastructure is the foundation for an advanced economy because it provides the framework to develop essential services that include housing, education, work transportation, healthcare, and more. It also shapes the environment in which the communities live. The transportation infrastructure includes roads, railways, public transport systems, airports and freight transport.

Designated Areas for Green Space

Greening helps to reduce the carbon footprint. It also reduces the heat emission in the concrete world of the city. Furthermore, it improves the quality of air. Finally, it creates a more pleasant setting. South Africa can take a page from Dubai’s greening efforts in its urban planning book. The city designated a large portion of its land for green spaces and made it mandatory for developers to use a specific percentage of the total construction area for green space. Dubai malls not adhering to recycling requirements face fines.

Final Thoughts on Urban Planning for the Future

For South African cities to adapt to the changing world landscape of globalisation, and to minimise the impact of human activity on the environment, urban planning must be focused on sustainability. It is also why your city council will benefit from working with experienced town planning consultants, able to assist with the process to reach your vision for how your city can look and operate in future.

To make it happen, planning must start today, especially because South African cities and towns have many challenges to address, including over-population of selected areas, how to provide services to communities who cannot afford to pay for these, what to do to overcome transportation bottlenecks, and how to reduce the environmental footprint of the economic activities.

Reach out for expert help to meet your urban planning needs.