Top ten Reasons why cities need Urban Planning

Urban planning is a valuable force for city leaders to achieve sustainable development. It is a means to bring about  a difference; Planning helps make the most out of municipal budgets by informing infrastructure and services investments, balancing demands for growth with the need to protect the environment. It distributes economic development within a given territory to reach social objectives and creates a framework for collaboration between local governments, the private sector and the public at large.

Urban planning is a framework that helps leaders transform vision into implementation, using space as a key resource for development and engaging stakeholders along the way.

Good planning can help city leaders to drive constructive changes:

·         A framework for growth

Thriving cities have a vision and follow it through with a framework to develop in an orderly manner. A framework is not about centralized command and control but a way to anticipate needs, coordinate efforts, and draw a path to a horizon that is collectively held. Major efforts to enhance livability, prosperity and equity have taken place in a number of well known cities. Such transformational impact is not a product of spontaneity, instead of constructive planning.

·         A planned city is a well prepared city

Anticipating the future allows us to be better prepared today. By staying ahead of challenges, city leaders are ready to see opportunities and manage risks from a vantage point. With reliable information on the current situation, they will be able to make connections between the long-term vision and short term actions. On the other hand, cities that don’t actively plan for their future will likely be left behind.

·         Planning improves impact

Local leaders are elected and appointed to deliver improvement. Given the magnitude of the challenges cities face, it is unlikely that all desired improvements will happen at once. Successful cities build momentum by undertaking priority projects that are aligned with the vision. Planning identifies pressing issues and available resources and makes sure that initiatives are not redundant or going in different directions.

·         An appropriate Urban form is very important

Housing, employment, accessibility and safety are key concerns for urban dwellers. These topics are strongly correlated to urban form. The right policies on density, land use, public space and the layout of infrastructure and services can make a difference in delivering quality of life at the right price point. Designing a spatial pattern that addresses citizens’ concerns is a means for delivering a better city.

·         Urban planning positively impacts urban economy

Making sure there are plenty of jobs in a city is a priority for local leaders. Cities compete to attract investment with a view to generating economic activity. Planning coordinates the spatial location and distribution of economic activity and facilitates value capture from public investment and the transformation of rural to urban land.

·         A collectively held plan allows cities to build lasting relationships

City leaders that are able to see opportunity in urbanization would need to engage all possible contributions toward capturing it. A collectively held framework gives local leaders a road map to reach out to citizens, energize departments and mobilize partners so that they become engaged in realizing the vision.

·          A broader territorial perspective helps cities attain economies of scale

Cities do not operate in vacuums. Their footprint is associated with a surrounding region with which they share resources and opportunities. Rather than just looking within municipal boundaries, cities that plan together can make a competitive advantage out of cross-municipal coordination. In addition to spatial efficiencies, this would allow them to draw on economies of scale to boost their negotiation power.

·         Continuity generates credibility

Successful cities have ensured continuity of plans through political cycles, realizing that a stable road map would make them more credible. Investment is a long term endeavour that benefits from predictable conditions. Spatial planning is an asset to reduce uncertainties and thus its continuity contributes to the creation of transparent opportunities for an engaged society.

·         Anticipating is more cost effective than reacting to problems

Local leaders have the opportunity of driving constructive change if they move away from laissez faire. Cities that plan in sufficient scale would be in a position of anticipating rather than reacting, hence being able to tackle the root of the problem. Unplanned spatial patterns are inefficient and require more resources to maintain, and the high cost of bad or no decisions is likely to make them irreversible.

·         A framework gives consistency to messages

             Communication is a key asset for cities, but the opportunity to connect and convey a city’s advantages                  can be undermined by empty or contradictory messages. Momentum and support are increased when                 the local leader can demonstrate substantive, even if incremental, progress that is consistent with the                 collective vision and framework for action.