Concept, Basic Characteristics & Preparation of Master Plan

Introduction to Master Plan

With rapid urbanization and growth of the city, urban planning has received a major importance. This planning is done at various hierarchies to integrate a large region with a small area so that the development is done at a same pace. There are many legal documents made to promote development. Master plan is one such document which provides rules and guidelines for a planned development both at present and future.

Urban areas have grown in both size and complexity over the decades and became unmanageable in most of the places. The need of having a mechanism or a way to regulate this growth was felt and thus methods were devised to regulate or “shape” this growth. Having master plan is one of such attempt. Other methods include development places called as “City Development Plan”, Town Planning Schemes, Land Use Plans,Zonal Plans, various other “spatial” plans made by concerned authorities.

Related: Central Place Theory (CPT) by Walter Christaller (1933)

 What is a Master Plan?

It is an instrument to work out land and infrastructure requirements for various urban and rural uses, and allocate land for various uses to result in harmonious and sustainable distribution of activities so that towns / cities are provided with a form and structure within which they can perform all their economic and social functions efficiently and effectively. The purpose of a Master Plan is to promote growth and guide and regulate present and future development of towns and cities with a perspective of 20-25 years.

Related: Primate City & Primacy | Relationship between city sizes

Basic Characteristics of Master Plan

It’s a Physical plan:  the plan is fundamentally a guide to the physical development of the community; It is long ranged: involves long term planning; It is comprehensive:  encompasses all the functions that make a community work, such as transportation, housing, land use, utility systems, and recreation. Moreover, the plan considers the interrelationships of function; Guide to decision making: for the planning board, the governing board and mayor or manager; Statement of public policy: The plan translates community values, desires, and visions into land use and development principles that can guide the future growth of your community.

Concept of Master Plan

Master Plan is comprehensive that is it integrates various aspects of planning like housing, transportation, infrastructure etc. All the aspects are considered that affects the quality of life of people and all the interrelationships between various aspects; Multidisciplinary in nature: it encompasses various disciplines of studies like social aspects, economics, environment, engineering, architecture etc.; Master plan is a long term document. It clears out the vision for prospective year for the city and plans out development for future; Master plan focuses on rational use of land that is demarking land for the use most optimal for the activity at a place. It efficiently uses resources to meet the present and future requirements of the citizens; Master plan should consider the environmental and costs related to it. The proposals for development should be environmentally sustainable.; Master Plan is based on inclusive planning. It considers all sections of people in society in development proposals and focuses on affordability. ; Master plan gives restrictions on ecologically sensitive areas, on heritage sites and traditional built up areas and gives special norms for these places. ; Master Plan leads to a balanced growth of the city. It prevents concentration of a particular activity at one place and takes into account efficient distribution of facilities, infrastructure, networks and housing and follows neighbourhood concept of development.

Concepts of master plan
Source: The Master Planning Process, New Hampshire Planning Commission

Process of Master Plan preparation

Legal Process

A statutory backing is needed to prepare any legal plan so that it can be implemented on ground. It is governed by principles, statutes, and codes which is derived from the state.  Various legislations which provide legal backing are: Development authority act; urban improvement trust act; Town and country planning act. The need for statutory backing is that it gives power to exercise police power and power of eminent domain. Any construction which does not follow master plan can be given court notice and demolished. Most of the planning processes taking place follows rational planning model.

Technical Process

It includes the framework of working in order to prepare a plan starting from defining goals to monitoring. Master Plan preparation is based on the “Systems view of planning” which involves instrumental rationality. The stages and steps followed by a particular authority or the concerned plan making body might differ. Complexity of the city and the organisation itself has a direct impact on the process adopted.

Concepts of master plan - technical process
Source: Adapted by author based on notes on Planning Theory by Dr. Ashok Kumar

Public process

Involving community in plan preparation is one of the most important components in plan making as they are better verse of their local issues and solutions. In India public participation is in the form of public hearing.This process is also called as “Public Participation” or “Public Hearing”. The whole aim of having a master plan growth of area for the residents of the place thus it becomes essential to take their views, objections and suggestions into account.

Management process

Planning process is to be managed taking care of the resources like time manpower, internal organization of departments and working relationships and coordination among various departments and planning agencies.The number of stakeholders at times are numerous as in case of metropolis where the division of work is precise and given to different “boards” or other subdivision of concerned departments. This classification makes it integral to take into account all the concerned departments and agencies and thus their management.

Weakness of Master Plan

Master Plan is a future plan document which uses the present data or maybe past data for future projections. So, it is outdated by the time it gets implemented; Usually no physical surveys are conducted each time a master plan is made; It is a rigid document.; Lack of implementation on time; Lack of actual public participation; Often the coordination between various agencies is missing which leads to poor implementation of the policies.

Note: This article forms a part of literature report prepared by students of B.Plan (2012-2016) from School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi.

Read about: Delhi Master Plan 2021, Smart Master Planning Process, UDPFI Guidelines