What are the Skills and Objectives of an Urban Planner?

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An urban planner is someone who practices in the area of planning, building and sustainability of cities. Urban planners create and design planning strategies and business plans that are geared towards increasing the productivity of a city and protecting its natural resources. Urban planners often draft and manage programs for public works such as parks and transportation networks.

Urban planners also help manage various community development issues, including economic development, housing policies, and demographics. The professionals who practice in the field of sustainable planning apply scientific methods of research and quantitative analysis to determine possible solutions to any given planning problem. They also analyze current practices related to land use, building design and sustainable construction techniques

Urban planning is the process of designing and arranging areas of a city to promote its overall well being as well as the well being of the inhabitants. Urban planning is an increasingly important aspect of cities around the world. Today, more people are calling on planners to design livable cities rather than throw-away cities.

Skills and Objectives of an Urban Planner

In the United States, cities plan under a set of conditions, called a master plan, that generally reflects their development objectives. Urban planning is an excellent arena for a job opportunity. In the current economy, there is such a high demand for a planner that there is ample room to start and establish your own firm.

Many planner trainee jobs are available at planning departments across the country. If you wish to work in a variety of capacities, from full-time to part-time, or even if you wish to open your own firm offering planning services, there are various internship programs that you can avail of in the various universities and colleges offering planning courses.

Urban planning covers many aspects of planning including

  • Transportation
  • Land use
  • Community organization
  • Building and architecture
  • Planning for development
  • Environmental protection
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Planning and design professionals may work for building codes enforcement agencies, planning departments or environmental agencies. Some urban planners may work as consultants for businesses and developers or as planners for individual communities. Urban planners must be trained in a variety of management skills, including

  • Management science
  • Decision making
  • Financial planning
  • Construction management

Some of the planning professionals work directly with state and federal government agencies, while many specialize in working with private industries and communities. In most cases, urban planners work under the jurisdiction of the regional planners, who are responsible for providing services to a particular region or neighborhood.

Regional planners can also work as urban planners, which involves working under a single regional planner. Urban planners may also work as planners for a particular city block or individual neighbourhoods. Urban planners must also have knowledge and experience in

  • Planning
  • Zoning
  • Building codes
  • Public health
  • Sustainability
  • They must also be prepared to communicate effectively and efficiently with all levels of government and various local agencies

Urban planners perform a wide range of tasks including

  • Social policy
  • Coordinating efforts among various individuals and groups
  • Creating policies concerning natural resources
  • Land use and economic development
  • Managing public works and providing for basic infrastructures such as roads, water treatment and distribution systems, education and healthcare facilities, and recreation.

They serve as the chief decision-makers in local government as well as the government of the country or state they serve. There are various subtopics in what is an urban planning, such as

  • Geographical information systems (GIS)
  • Social infrastructure planning
  • Sustainable planning
  • Cultural and recreational planning
  • Environmental quality management
  • Transportation planning
  • Financial strategy

The planner is primarily concerned with the form and structure of people’s lives in that particular area. It is also interested in the relationships between people, place, and development, especially in relation to the environment.

The most common objectives of urban planning are

  • Increasing energy efficiency
  • Reducing traffic congestion
  • Providing better access to affordable housing
  • Encouraging growth in affordable real estate markets
  • Creating job markets
  • Reducing the environmental impact of development
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Many cities throughout the United States have adopted comprehensive plans. For example, the three most populous cities in the U.S., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston, have adopted detailed regional planning programs.

These regional plans generally focus on each of the three largest cities plus their suburbs. Each city is assigned a unique regional planning office, or planner. Because of this, it is not uncommon for two or more planners to be involved in the process of creating these plans.

In addition, many suburban communities have developed their own individual goals and objectives of how they want their communities to develop. Some examples include

  • Providing greater access to jobs for residents
  • Providing a “healthy living environment,”
  • Preventing crime
  • Providing a better quality of life for children
  • Improving the quality of education, etc.

Although some of these reasons are logical and others not so much. Another issue that urban planners and urban village developers must contend with is labour markets. The location of the jobs can affect the type of housing that people can afford. For example, some employers prefer to locate their operations in upscale, exclusive neighbourhoods where residents have money to spend.

Urban planners and developers must also consider that people who choose jobs within an urban village will need transportation to get to work. Also, the proximity of schools, colleges, hospitals and other establishments requires the presence of these types of institutions as well.

One of the main objectives of urban planning and urban village development is the creation of more jobs

Jobs create a flow of income that flows through the community and stimulates the economy. More businesses mean more tax revenue and more income for the residents of the communities. In many instances, these communities are built around employment centres such as

  • Malls
  • Subways
  • Hospitals
  • Office buildings

These destinations make it easy for people to move into urban villages and create a better life for themselves and their families. The ability of the planner to make long-term planning is another important skill needed for an urban planner.

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They must be able to envision the future of cities and metropolitan areas and how they will play into the future economic growth of the nation. A successful urban planner should be able to project the needs of future residents and the amount of growth that would be required in a particular city.

A good urban planner should also have the ability to make long-term projections regarding the growth, population, and trends of cities and metropolitan areas.

These skills are a combination of many other factors including

  • Communication skills
  • Technical abilities
  • Decision-making skills
  • Ability to communicate with various groups
  • Ability to organize and manage people and resources
  • Ability to make realistic budget projections.

The ability to analyze and evaluate the needs of communities is an important skill in urban planning. This analysis and evaluation are necessary in order for the planners to determine how to meet the present needs and future needs of the communities and the growth and prosperity of the residents.

These skill sets are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other skill sets that help to make urban planning practices effective. These skills must be developed through the process of inclusive urban development.

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About the author

I am Adegboyega Tunde Temitayo. A registered Town Planner with the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC).

I love to think differently and possibly on various Urban and Regional Planning issues to proffer solutions to Urban and Rural Environmental Problems. You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel

As the Chief Editor of Town Planners Diary, I humbly welcome you to this platform which is about enhancing Planning Education through research on various Town Planning and Environmental issues.

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