Integrated Development Planning is a government initiated process that municipalities follow in preparation of five-year strategic plans for development. Also referred to as IDP, Integrated Development Planning is the instrument that provides guidance on the budgeting and decision-making processes of municipalities – a type of “business plan”.

The Integrated Development Plan can be seen as the umbrella plan for a specific municipality and the areas falling within the municipal borders directly related to development. The IDP coordinates the decision-making and budgeting of the local government in the improvement of the quality of life for the community in a particular area.

Efficient Integrated Development Planning makes provision for social and economic development of an entire area within the municipality. The IDP, as such, provides the overall framework for land use management, infrastructure development, and protection of the environment. As an extension of the IDP, the municipality must prepare and adopt a Spatial Development Framework (SDF) as its policy to guide and inform decisions on land development matters – typical applications for rezoning, subdivision and township establishment.

How Municipalities Use IDPs

South African municipalities use Integrated Development Planning processes, and the SDF in particular for effectively planning the future development of the various areas within the municipalities. The aim is to achieve the most economical, environmentally friendly, and socially viable solutions for optimal benefits over the long term through development. Integral to IDPs and SDFs is the consideration for what the people in the specific areas want and need. For such, the municipalities actively encourage community participation in the planning processes, and value feedback and comments from residents.


All IDPs and SDFs have a limited lifespan and must be reviewed/updated on a regular basis. This period of validity directly corresponds to the local counsel office terms. However, the plans are reviewed annually, to ensure that the necessary alterations can be made according to changing needs, environmental factors, and budget restraints, in order to ensure that the five-year goals can be achieved.

When new counsellors are appointed after local elections, they have the option of changing existing IDPs and related policies, continuing with the plans, or scrapping the previous IDPs from the former local councils in favour of new Integrated Development Plans, with consideration of the goals of the previous IDPs.


The executive committee of the local municipality manages the Integrated Development Planning process alongside the executive mayors, and can also choose to appoint municipal managers to oversee implementation, maintenance, and achievement of the IDPs.

An IDP coordinator can also be appointed to oversee the entire Integrated Development Planning process and implementation. The coordinator reports to the municipal manager, who reports to the executive committee. No IDP can be effective and supported by the community if the drafting of the plan is not done in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders. The council has the final say over the Integrated Development Planning document and must approve it before implementation can commence.

Why Integrated Development Planning is Essential

Every municipality has a responsibility to ensure responsible usage of limited resources. With an IDP and SDF, it is possible to focus on the essential needs of the communities, with consideration of the available resources. The aim is to reduce financial burdens on the various services, whilst also minimising the environmental impact and ensuring that the community’s needs are met.


An IDP provides a formal framework for decision-making and development, and because its lifespan is typically five years, it gives a timeframe in which to meet delivery of products and services goals, and provides a realistic timeframe for project development proposals. With the IDP in place, it is easier for the municipality to attract investments. It also encourages the participation of stakeholders, and thus provides a democratic element in the decision-making process regarding development. The IDP furthermore encourages collaboration between local, provincial, and national government departments and agencies. With such, investments are turned into agreed developments

Main Stakeholders

The main stakeholders in Integrated Development Planning are the municipality, councillors, communities, national and provincial sector departments, and developers. The IDP is the guidance plan for the municipality and provides the councillors with a framework in which to make decisions. It is a plan specifically based on the community’s needs, and it encourages businesses and developers to participate in the implementation process. It also encourages participation of government departments for the relevant allocation of resources to address local needs, such as schools, police stations, and clinics.


The IDP outlines the structures for managing the planning process, participation of the public and structures to promote such participation, the timeframe for planning, allocation of responsibilities and roles, and monitoring of the process.

Make use of our expertise in Integrated Development Planning, spatial planning, and land use management to assist in the development and implementation of a relevant IDP and SDF for your particular municipality.