Urban Planning Unveiled in Simple Words


Urban planning refers to the technical process surrounding the development and design of land and infrastructure in towns on cities. Thus accounting for all natural and man-made resources, and considering important factors like sanitation. Among the elements that play a role in the urban planning process include:

  • Land use
  • Locations of footpaths, roads, dams, sewers, airports and other infrastructure
  • Types of industries embedded in the community
  • Characteristics of the population
  • Employment and economic trends
Urban planning

Planning in a sustainable community. Source: Virgina Tech

Challenges of planning

Urban planning has always been a complex area and one that has profoundly affected towns and cities across the world. Newer cities are cutting edge metropolises, with perfectly mapped out urban areas. And more than enough space and essentials to cater to citizens. Indeed, cities like Putrajaya in Malaysia give us a glimpse of what the outcome of proper planning might look like in the years to come. 

Older cities are different, and they generally suffered from poor urban planning, not to mention a lack of space, as well as a shortage of essential amenities. This causes long-term health and safety issues for residence, some of which continue to be felt today. 

Before the 19th Century, settlement areas typically began as small towns and then started to spread and grow over time as more people moved to them. It wasn’t until the latter part of the 19th century that modern urban planning as we know it today began in earnest.  However, evidence of basic urban planning skills can be found as early as the Mesopotamian era!

Why focus of planning?

Practically, much of planning is based on a combined knowledge of architecture, economics, human relations, and engineering. Due to the nature of urban planning, and its focus on developing the land and reinvigorating the city, there is a great deal of data collection and analysis, as well as strategic planning. But this is all leading us towards smart cities, which is an exciting concept, and sure to transform the planning landscape entirely!

No town or city can thrive without the right kind of proper planning. And, often, if used effectively, this can enhance a city moving forward. Public budgets and local investments often take their steer from urban planning. And this is something governments have to keep in mind. 

This begs the question, is urban planning an effective medium through which to achieve sustainability, economic growth, and societal development? And if this is true, should it not be more prevalent in developing nations?

D. Oladejo CEnv

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