What is Urban Planning?
Most senior school students do not understand the forces that lead to the existence of their respective housing societies, neighborhood shopping areas or location of their schools. Neither would it occur to most of the students to explore the reasons for the existing form of the built environment around them. Common people approach the built environment as an act of the government and some private builders. The students’ curiosity to delve deeper into the reasoning of plans of the cities they live in or travel to is further hampered by lack of opportunities.
Professional colleges are expected to bridge the gaps. At most the school curriculum entails planning as references to ancient civilisations and its architecture, more so in styles of structures as against as elements of built environment and its impact of day to day life of its citizens. A basic understanding of planning of urban area should be pertinent to majority of the students of not only Indian cities and towns but of villages as well. This is important so as to make the youth aware of kind of cities and towns they will reside in, more so in light of the projected urban population of India crossing the 50 percent mark in next 20 years. Let us take a moment to understand URBAN PLANNING.
Planning is about our neighborhood. It is about why our apartments and homes are located in certain areas. Why the schools are at a certain distance? Why shopping areas are concentrated along a street? Why factories are located far from homes? How much parking space needs to be allocated in a market place or what should be the area of the park in a neighborhood? Why the highways are wider than the street next to our homes. Why farms are outside the city? How much population could the city nurture in the next 20 years? The city is divided into zones and neighborhoods, which are guided by the development regulations and bye-laws. Regulations are a set of rules that define what each plot of land could be used for (as housing, Shops, roads or parks). Endeavour is to keep conflicting land uses separate from each other. Other than the use of land, the regulations define the population that a zone and neighborhood can accommodate.
These questions and likes are at the heart of the Planning profession. The aim of planning being to maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of the citizens based on the needs and culture of those who live and work within the city today and in future. The job of the Planner is to interact with the citizens, elected officials, government officials of various departments to understand their viewpoints and create a plan for the entire city. Planners imagine the way the city should work and grow in the future. Planners endeavour to build cities that are safe and healthy across all age groups. Planners also look at larger hazards that could impact the safety of the citizens. Planners look at the potential risks a neighborhood might face if a river floods and take actions in present to reduce the risks of tomorrow. Planners think about today as well as what tomorrow might bring. A city plan must meet the needs of its citizens today, keeping the future in mind. A city plan called a development plan consists of a map along with supporting documents of what the city aims to achieve in the future.
If the questions as to how a neighborhood might change if a metro line is constructed along its edge, who would plan it and how such decisions are taken interests you, you might want to be a Planner!