Urban Planning, also known as Town Planning, City Planning or Regional Planning, is the art of giving shape, design, and structure to cities and towns. It involves various processes like arrangement and designing of buildings, transport systems, public spaces, determining land use as well as good amenities. Importance of urban planning is understood when we talk about the various challenges faced by cities. Planners can answer and address some of the most challenging issues. Taking care of demand of people, need of physical spaces and infrastructure in a sustainable manner. The quality of our built environment directly impacts the well-being of people in a community.
Urban planning is about more than the built environment – its about the city as a living system
Nowadays, it has become a much-needed discipline because cities are getting overpopulated day by day and resources are getting scarce. Urban planning is a hot topic. The recent election results reveal an America that is anxious to take back control of its cities, and reviving forgotten urban centres such as Detroit, Boston, and St. Louis. Because of reasons such as urban development, continuous threats of global warming, focus on sustainable development and environmental catastrophe, it is important to take the measures. The fields of urban planning, urban design, sustainable development, urban environment play an important role as they help in finding the solutions to use the land and infrastructure in the best possible way. Urban planners or town planners must take into account a wide range of issues, including the needs of the Community, the environment and transport (including transport, housing, employment, public health, education, transport infrastructure, etc.). They formulate a long-term plan, typically analysed by a team of experts in urban planning and design, as well as other disciplines.
It was started in ancient Rome when the city had a population of less than 1 million. The government has recognized urban planning as the perfect measure to eradicate the problems occurring in various big cities. But the question is, “Why urban planning?” “What does exactly it do and why has it become so important? Urban planning has evolved from its original conception to a profession that has become a necessity for future planners.
What is Urban Planning and why is it gaining popularity?
Urban planning is a new discipline whose need has arisen due to the rising health issues, urban development, population growth, environmental degradation, poor sanitation, and pollution. The way the cities were designed earlier, it had become tough for citizens to reside, walk or use public transport. For the first time in the year 2010, over 50% of the world’s population was living in cities. At that time, the United Nations predicted that by 2015, there will be 358 cities in the world having more than 1 million population and 27 megacities with more than 10 million people. Much of this will be seen in developing countries. That’s why the need for urban planning came into the picture.
Urban planning is also referred to as town planning or city planning in various areas worldwide and is considered an interdisciplinary field covering a wide range of disciplines, such as architecture, urban design, planning, architecture and city management. Although it is mainly concerned with the planning of settlements and communities, it also adheres to the principles of conservation of areas of natural and environmental importance, as well as the protection of public health and the environment. Those who have studied urban planning have traced the beginnings of settlement in the early cities of Mesopotamia to today’s global cities. Urban planning involves the notion that profits and economic growth bring the city to its full potential. This is done by working on different aspects which governs urban growth and urban development by making policy documents, development plans, master plans, land use plans etc.
With this, let’s understand why urban planning has become crucial in today’s world.
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What is the importance of Urban Planning?
Urban planning, town planning, city planning and regional planning play various important roles. There are various aspects which are taken care of while planning such as financial, economic, environmental, educational, transportation etc.
- Organised and planned development of cities
- Offers a better quality of life
- Aids economic growth and economic development
- Takes into account the environmental considerations
- Makes cities resilient
- Better infrastructure & sustainable form of development
- Easy access to educational and health facilities
- A good and efficient public transport system
- An efficient & reliable waste management system
- More jobs and other economic opportunities
Help the cities to grow in a planned manner
Due to more work opportunities, better education facilities, and many other reasons, the population in the cities of developing countries is increasing rapidly. In order to accommodate a large population, there have to be some early plans. That’s why concerned development authorities and relevant stakeholders should work together on an efficient plan making process.. This is done by keeping certain factors in mind, such as the needs of citizens, community participation, social equity, public welfare, appropriate expansion of infrastructure, and efficient measures during emergency situations. A planned city maximises the advantages and benefits of living in a city.
Balanced distribution of resources through urban planning, the city would have a strategy to develop its economy as well as liveability conditions. Not only the expansion of residential areas & urban sprawls, but urban planning also ensures good transportation, health care, urban design, sustainable development by means of master plan. Thus, the city will grow rapidly without having negative impacts on its built environment, economy and citizens. It thus accomplishes multiple objectives while taking into account the environmental impact of major urban projects.
Improves Quality of Life, offers a healthy lifestyle
Quality of life is the major concern of every human being when they move to a city. The other two issues are employment and accommodation. Though the cost of living is higher, the opportunities are also great. To make it easier, the city manager must have rules and regulations for the proper distribution of land, public spaces, and the infrastructures. Due to increasing density in nearby cities, city management is creating several attractive points of interest in the city. The authorities are also regularly updating the traffic regulations due to constant increase in the number of vehicles. All these measures are ultimately improving the quality of life of the people. City planning helps in managing the metropolitan areas better, especially the downtown areas and other central areas.
Caters to Environmental Considerations
Global warming has created some major issues for our planet and the inhabitants. Having an early idea of natural calamities has become very important for those who do city management. They are trying to have the prediction of all such calamities to make long-term strategies and later achieve them by making short-term actions. They keep the citizens as well as the visitors safe from all possible disasters that the world is facing today. Minimizing the risks for the betterment of everyone has only become possible because of urban planning. The need to address environmental issues has been clearly highlighted in the recent sustainable development goals formed by the United Nations. The policy document outlines the importance of environmental impact assessments and makes them mandatory for any urban development project.
Positive impact on Economy & better utilisation of Resources
We all know that as the cities grow, economic requirements increase too. The financial measure is one of the most important aspects of urban planning and if not taken properly, there would be a severe impact on the economy of the city. It takes care of more and more job openings as well as reducing the cost of living. The major problem cities are facing nowadays is the migration of inhabitants due to the reduced number of work opportunities and expensive living conditions. Urban planning also does the expansion of neighbouring rural areas. It takes all the required measures for further development and utilization of the rural areas to bring economic growth to the city.
Safe and Healthy Lifestyle for Everyone
By constantly following the advice provided by the World Health Organization, urban planners ensure that the people in an urban area live a safe and healthy life. They suggest the inhabitants pay attention to their lifestyle. Authorities create a better environment and provide sufficient areas in the public park for senior citizens to exercise and have leisure time. They keep machines to collect garbage and unwanted materials to keep the city clean and healthy for the citizens.
Making Cities Resilient
A well planned city or area incorporates various measures to cater for disasters. Cities are areas with high population density and thus need to be safe and resilient from natural and as well as man made disasters. Planning for the future prepares the city to protect itself from any disaster or minimise the losses. Urban Planning thus helps in saving urban areas and reducing loss of lives and property.
Develop the Nation
According to the reports of the UN, the world will likely have more than 3 billion people moving to cities by 2050. This report suggests that this continuous growth in urban population could cause severe harm to biodiversity. Each country is putting efforts to minimize the impact of increasing urbanization on the environment. The management is planting more and more trees. They are raising awareness among the citizens to use more and more public transport and decrease the rate of fuel consumption per person. With all these measures, who will grow? Of course, THE NATION.
With the growing population, cities will always need urban planning. That’s why it must be implemented all around the world, especially in developing countries. They will always come across challenging conditions and things will become even worse without urban planning. Not only the official and the management should be responsible, but every citizen should act sensibly towards the betterment of the society, city, and the country.
Summary: Urban planning is not only about planting trees and picking up the garbage, but there are also thousands of aspects that urban planners cover. That’s why it has become so important for cities these days.
For further reading and getting more information about Urban Planning you can read the following articles:
- Urban Planning Job Description
- Why political agendas never actually solve your problems whereas planners can!
- Planning process without planners
- Loss to community because of incompetent planners
- Planners as knowledge workers
- Understanding the limitations of planning
- Urban Planning – Largely Unknown Profession