Key Factors to Consider in Modern Urban Planning

If you have ever driven in Cape Town along its many highways, you would have realised that extensive planning must have gone into the design of the city’s road infrastructure. Getting from one point to another in any city can be challenging if the road infrastructure planning has not been done with the long-term development of the city in mind. Urban planning plays an important role in making it possible for urban dwellers to get to and from work, navigate from one area to another and make use of public transport.

Urban planning entails extensive coordination and collaboration between the urban planners, the local government, private sector stakeholders, and the public to determine the needs of specific areas. With more than 50% of the global population already urbanised, it goes without saying that urban planning must be done to address the service delivery, transportation, relaxation, environmental protection, safety, and security needs of the urban residents.

Rapid urbanisation over the past two decades in South Africa has brought about challenges such as ensuring waste disposal, energy supply, clean water supply, storm water drainage, road infrastructure, public transportation, education, religious places of worship, medical facilities, work places, and housing to meet the demands for such.

Below are important factors that must be considered in modern urban planning if the above is to be addressed with sustainability in mind.

Surrounding Environment

Any addition or changes in urban space should be done with due consideration of the particular area’s environment, including the physical, social, and economic environment of the communities occupying the space.

The urban planning team should thus consider the location of the city, town, township, or suburb, and the geological history of the particular region. A town on the West Coast of South Africa has different needs than one located in the lush green environment of the Eastern Cape. Proximity to water and food should be considered. In this regard, urban planners can make use of tools such as terrain mapping.

The social make-up of the population in the area is extremely important, as their cultural needs must be met. The urban planning team must consider the demographics of the area, as well as the road infrastructure and availability of public transport, the total number of people living in the particular area, their educational and medical services requirements, and more.

The urban planning team must pay close attention to the economic factors that affect the particular area. This includes the socio-economic levels of the population, the unemployment rate, particular employment trends in the region, and more. A modern trend in urban planning is to design spaces in such a way to ensure that employees live closer to their places of work and have access to rapid transport services to and from work.

The Involvement of Residents

Any revitalisation efforts of a particular urban space should be done with consideration of the needs and wants of the communities affected. As such, the involvement of residents in decision-making processes is essential. Public hearings and channels for lodging of objections must form part of the process. It may be to the advantage of the entire region to have a large retail shopping mall developed, but for the immediate residents living next to the area of the development, this may mean extra traffic, and/or an increase in crime. Public awareness campaigns should thus form part of the planning process to ensure that the community members understand the impact and advantages of changes or additions.

The Future of the Region

Any development that takes place now will affect future generations in the particular area. It is thus vital that urban planning teams look at factors such as trends in population growth, possible fluctuations, and the possible factors that can affect such. The developments must be able to accommodate future growth of the population in the particular area. If it has a high population growth figure, then planning spaces to include multiple-storey buildings may be needed, rather than planning for single freehold family houses in the urban area.

Demolish or Renew?

Making space for important developments in the urban area is important. However, renewal should always be done with consideration of the region’s history, the age and history of the buildings, current space usage, and the social needs of the community. A building may have fallen in disrepair, but does it mean that it should be demolished to make space for a brand-new building?

The above and other factors must be considered when doing urban planning for a region. Make use of experienced and well-qualified urban planners to help ensure balanced, forward-thinking planning for sustainable urban environments.