Approaches to Urban Planning


Urban planners develop plans for land use in metropolitan areas and outskirts. These people set policies in the government or private entities when it comes to planning. Planners create communities and accommodate growth while revitalizing the facilities in cities, towns, counties, and other urbanite regions. Urban planners have several tasks to do in society. Firstly, they are tasked with meeting public officials and private developers who have expertise on matters of land use (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Secondly, urban planners gather and analyze economic and environmental research, census, and market the study data. Furthermore, an urban planner’s responsibility is to conduct investigations on matters affecting land use in metropolitan areas.

Additionally, urban planners review site plans submitted by developers and assess the possibility of proposals while identifying the required changes. Lastly, these experts recommend whether or not to approve projects on land use from planning commissions from both federal and state perspectives (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Therefore, these professionals are essential to any community due to the technical role they have. The planners use tools such as geographic information systems (GIS) that can analyze data and give results (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Urban planners’ planning is guided by government goals and the key demands on and in a given urban area.

Nature and Theories of Urban Planning

There are theories of planning that give nature to urban design. The first theory is rationality, a model that indulges in various balanced actions or steps. In rationality theory, the planning technique is used to design neighborhoods, towns, and regions. This theory has logical decisions compared to others since proportionality is considered while giving solutions to land issues (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). In rationality planning, problems or goals are defined, and alternative policies are identified. Additionally, the plans are evaluated before being implemented, and the effects are monitored. Rationality theory in planning gives an objective assessment criterion used to determine the success or failures of options available.

Incrementalism in planning encompasses a strategic plan that is executed due to failure to develop or unnecessary aspects of a particular approach. The process of applying incrementalism does not have central planning aspects, and most of the time, inflexible work systems are evident. The key emphasis on incrementalism is the gradual transformation of public policy on land usage, which caters to a sustainable future (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). The other theory in the context of planning is mixed scanning, which is strategic rationalism that combats the challenges faced while utilizing rationality and incrementalism perspectives. This theory gives options where a planner may chip in on land use and other related issues during the decision-making process.

The difference between these theories is based on the nature and outcome of the decision taken concerning planning. Rationality focuses on centralizing planning choices with a preference towards the logical effect and not the consensus. Opposed to rationality planning, incrementalism favors the majority’s wishes on planning and leans towards popular participation when designing, planning, and executing the policies on land use in urban and metropolitan areas (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Mixed scanning defers from the other two theories in that it fills the gaps that the other models have left by getting a fitting plan on land use or similar aspects of life.

The Practice of Planning

Planning professionals have given definitions of what is meant by some practices in planning and the roles that urban planners have in each. The first practice is sectoral planning, also known as comprehensive planning. This means a strategic plan for a defined sector is designed considering criteria such as economy, environment, infrastructure, and other forms of grouping. In this context, urban planners decide on land use tactics for the regions based on the specific sector and elements (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Some of the aspects that the urban planner will be tasked with developing a comprehensive plan are construction feasibility, electricity, and water distribution to areas. That initiative includes transport and communications systems in place for various areas under a given region.

Pluralism in planning comprises dividing sectors based on religion, social ideologies, economic status, and cultural relations. At this point, urban planners engage in political processes that aid in designing plans that have the interests of the government, private sector, and special parties (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Interest group planning contains deliberation of various factors for parties with a specific role in government and private angles. These groups include environmental, property, immigrant and refugee, research, and local interest, groups. The role of the urban planner, in this case, is to establish the grounds under which design on land use will favor these parties without compromising the government agenda in the social values that are required (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Advocacy planning encompasses putting the groups’ interests as mentioned above into consideration when making decisions on land use and rationing of property under relevant criteria. Urban planners in advocacy planning must represent the interests of minorities to the public commissions on land. Similarly, all other parties that form interest groups are advocated for when designing an area for given property use.

Planning and Implementation

An urban planner must involve in particular roles when it comes to the success of a strategy. For the implementation to be effective, planners need to forecast what influences future land use demands in a given region (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). In addition, they must develop policies that do not compromise the values that are in contention within the implementation structure. For local and central control, planners derive a system that distinguishes the policy-making framework for the specific case of land use. The planners must establish a system that does not prevent control of resources by giving options for rationality when designing projects and other essential properties in a given region (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Private and public planning processes have a special requirements for the planners. There is a need to have proposed the development of regulatory agencies that can regulate land use interests. Additionally, the planner must be ready to follow legal provisions that give a course of action for any breach of land planning concerning interest groups and other parties.

Essential Elements and Steps in Typical Urban Planning Process

It is vital to identify issues and key players, ranging from citizens to the private sector and public officials. The other essential component is the dispute that must be put in place when planning the process. The need to have consensus is important, and agreement must cover all the party’s demands and advocacy requirements in all the US urban designs (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). The other significant section is the implementation, which means the inclusion of economic alternatives. In this step of the planning process, there is the identification of issues and options available. The next step is stating goals, and objectives, including priorities. The other step comprises gathering and interpreting data while drafting programs for execution (Cullingworth & Caves, 2013). Moreover, evaluating potential outcomes and reviewing the chances of adopting the plan is also critical. Last is the administration of implementation programs and afterward monitoring of the impacts.


Cullingworth, J., & Caves, R. (2013). Planning in the USA policies, issues, and processes. (4th ed.). Routledge.

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