Sample Essay on Urban Planning

Urban Planning

Europe and the United States

a). list and discuss the background differences as it relates to planning in Europe and the United States

In looking at the disparity in planning, Great Britain and the United States have a lot in common. Although most of the laws of the US are drawn from the British Common Law, their planning is more different from one another (Levy, 2011, p. 363). One of the historical disparities in planning between the Great Britain and America is the lack of a written constitution. Therefore, more power is relegated to the parliament, which is charged with making most of the planning decisions. However, in the United States, sub-national governments are more powerful and make most of the decisions on planning. Each state in America, thus, has its own planning agenda and timelines, which they strictly adhere to. Congressional legislations, hence, have minimal impact on the planning decisions of every state (Levy, 2011, p. 363).

In fact, a National Planning Resource Board in the US was disbanded in 1943. This was followed by the prohibition by the Congress of the formation of any other national agency that would play the role of national planning (Levy, 2011, p.304). However, in the case of Britain, the government took much of the responsibility of planning. This was a comprehensive set of planning that was driven by the national government (Callies, 1991). Bodies like the Urban Development Corporation were established with the aim of planning the cities, and with enough authority to override any plans by the local governments, while such an area attractive for private developers and creating conditionality for the private investors (Levy, 2011, p. 370).

The involvement of the citizens in planning, as well as media coverage on matters of government and planning are limited in Britain unlike the US. The American citizenry remains vigilant on government actions, keeping an eye on each move that is made by the government as well as politicians. In this case, public involvement in planning is therefore deeply rooted in America than in Britain (Callies, 1991). This can even be seen in the litigious nature of US citizenry when it comes to planning unlike among the citizenry of Great Britain (Levy, 2011, p. 364).

b). Give a comprehensive analysis related to key planning issues for the nation of your choice

In the wake of the Great Depression and WWII, most of Great Britain’s planning was affected. While the greater Proofreading-EditingLondon metropolitan area remained dismally affected by the two events, the peripheries experienced adverse impacts, which therefore, prompted the government and planners to restrict the metropolitan growth of London while diversifying economic growth to other national geographical locations (Levy, 2011, p. 364). This vision was affected by a series of laws implemented by the British parliament. These laws were aimed at establishing a restriction of the growth of London, preserving farmland and improving the economy, while hindering population decrease in London’s periphery areas (Levy, 2011, p. 364).

The activities towards achieving these elements were successful, especially through the greenbelt system through London and other major cities, as well as the development of other towns. With the huge population of London, however, businesses flaunted the regulations and moved into London (Levy, 2011, p. 365). The limitations on development of other areas in preference for the development only within urban areas however, resulted into congestion within the urban centers, while leaving a greater percentage of underdeveloped land (Callies, 1991). However, the densely populated towns have created a problem of traffic congestion because a high number of people living in the cities own automobiles (Levy, 2011, p. 367).

Planning Theories

a). How is planning theory different from the practice of planning?

Theory is usually an idea that guides the practical application of that idea. Therefore, it is essential that one acquires an insight from a developed theory. Planning theory therefore, offers an insight into making effective plans. Insights can be obtained from more than just one theory. Others theories that can also be relied upon include the rational model, disjointed incrementalism and Middle-Range Model theories of planning (Levy, 2011, p. 409). On the other hand, the practice of planning drawing from other theories can help in testing the practicability of those theories. Therefore, theories are developed and tested through practical experiences (Levy, 2011, p. 403). The idea in this case is that both practice and theory are dynamic, drawing from one another, with theory impacting the development of ideas, while practice acts as the testing ground for modification of the theory, as well as creation of other theories.

b). What is the major difference between Public Planning and Private Planning?

Public planning is more challenging than private planning. The outcomes of public planning, in addition, are sometimes less rational unlike the case with private planning. The rationale behind the difficulty in public planning originates from the fact that public planning has to satisfy different ends, most of which contradict each other. Private planning is on the other hand, largely aimed at satisfying a single end or at times a limited number of ends (Levy, 2011, p. 403).

c). List and discuss three theoretical approaches to the process of planning

The three theories on planning include the rational model, disjointed incrementalism and middle-range model. The rational model proposes a comprehensive plan whereby the planning process is not only rational but also systematic (Levy, 2011, p. 404). The model outlines a sequence through which the planning process should abide starting with the definition of the problem, clarification of values, selection of goals to be achieved, formulation of alternative plans, and forecasting the negative impacts of any alternatives pursued in the previous steps. The steps also include the evaluation and selection of alternative course of action, development of a comprehensive plan and the final review and evaluation of the entire process.

The disjointed incrementalism theory emphasizes on working with little bits and not in accordance with a comprehensive framework. Created by Lindblom, the theory argues that planners should come up with short lists of achievable objectives and focus on them (Levy, 2011, p. 408). This theory advocates for learning from experience and focusing on benefiting from policy options that bear incremental transformation from the previous policies (Levy, 2011, p. 408).

The Middle-range model on the other hand, integrates both rational and disjointed theories. Therefore, it advocates for detailed examination of particular segments and a truncated review of other relevant sectors. In this way, the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats of every plan will be considered for a comprehensive and workable plan (Levy, 2011, p. 408).

d). Which approach do you think is the most effective for urban planners and why?

The middle-range approach offers the best option for urban planners. The planners do not only look at the bigger picture of the entire city or nation but can also be able to segment the larger plan into bits that are manageable, drawing experience from previous projects, and policies that have worked before while also avoiding the pitfalls of others that have not been successful. The theory considers the comprehensive plan, while also taking care in the execution of the plan in sections that can be well managed to completion.

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Levy, J.M. (2011). Contemporary Urban Planning (9th ed.). Upper Saddler River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall Press

Callies, D. L. (1991). Town and Country Planning in the United Kingdom, Vol II. London: Cullingworth