Issues In Town Planning | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Issues In Town Planning

Bisi Adedire
Posted: Apr 29, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Bisi Adedire


Town planning is simply the art of organising space in other to ensure judicious use of such space in ways that afford non-conflicting activities and sustainability of the environment. The space in this context refers to space on land. Town Planners are often referred to as the custodians of the environment. This is borne out of the fact that every development on land usually begins with town planners who dictate the patterns these developments should take via plans. Thus, the bulk of the activity of town planners is plan preparation. Urban and regional planners, as they are formally called, develop plans and programs for the use of land. Their plans help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

It should be noted that town planners can practise either as a Private entity that is, establishing and operating a town planning firm or as a Public office holder in the ministry. Note worthy also is the fact that the activities of the town planners are legally backed up by different legislations. Some of which are the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law, decree 88 of 1992 and the Land Use Decree 6 of 1978.  These laws prescribe what activities are reserved for the town planning profession and the administrative organisation of these activities.

The various areas of competence of town planners include:

  1. Master Plan Preparation: This is a blueprint that prescribes the pattern of physical development of a place say a city by designating certain locations for specific land use type. This implies the preparation of a plan that prescribe the way a city should evolve by specifying the transport routes, residential locations, commercial areas, industrial estates and recreational centres and other features of the city. This is done by applying relevant planning principles and standards in the design of the plan. This plan, upon completion and adoption, becomes an instrument for controlling the physical growth of the city. Master plans can be prepared for educational campuses, religious camp grounds, new towns, a state or a country etc. These plans are in categories as prescribed by the law earlier mentioned which ranges from national development plans (country plan) to subject plans (individual plans).
  2. Preparation of Development Guide Plan: This is another type of plan prepared by planners to order the evolution of development within a community. Usually, this type of plan is prepared for villages or towns at the fringe of cities which is already been occupied without a structured development pattern. Thus, this plan is prepared to guide the pattern of development subsequently by adopting the existing development where permissible in the plan and ordering a new direction for development evolution in the village or community.

iii.         Layout Plan Preparation: This is a blueprint of the pattern of plot division within an area or estate. It is a plan showing how individual plots are arranged in relation to one another within an estate, including the road network, drainages, walkways etc and other features of the estate. All these are prepared according to planning standards.

  1. Urban Renewal Execution: This is a process of revitalizing or rehabilitating an area that has been characterised by uneven or haphazard development and environmental degradation over a period time, which is best described as a slum. The process of urban renewal involves making plans to redevelop/revitalize such areas and improve the lives of people through removal and rebuilding of some structures, provision of needed facilities and amenities (water, roads, electricity, clinics, recreational areas etc), reorientation of the residents on sustainable environment and waste management amongst others.
  2. Advocacy on Planning and land matters: Planners sometimes function as advocates for their client before the planning ministry or authority to defend a course bothering on land and physical developments as it relates to the available planning laws. They help to interpret the laws and present reasons a development proposal should be approved or otherwise. Armed with a good knowledge of the law and the environment, they also consult for prospective developers on the best choices to make. More importantly, all planners are advocates of the environment and speak out when actions, public or private, infringe on the sustainability of the environment.
  3. Report Preparation: For every plan prepared by planners, there is usually a technical report prepared to back it up. These reports explain the plans in details stating the policies adopted in the plans and how they are to be implemented. Planners also prepare Environmental Impact Assessment reports for development proposals. This report assesses the likely impacts (positive and negative) a proposed development is going to have on the environment and the people. This document informs the decision of the planning authority on the approval of the development proposal.

It must be said that the Town Planning profession is one unique profession that is actually the lifeline of the modern city which is being faced by myriads of challenges ranging from natural to human induced problems. Thus, it should be accorded its dignified recognition and position in the society.