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Strategic Spatial Development Planning Term Paper


Spatial planning has gained a lot of popularity in the recent past following the rapid growth of population, especially in major urban centers. According to Fingerhuth (2004), spatial planning is currently seen as the solution to the problem of congestion in some of the major cities around the world.

However, spatial planning is not only appropriate in the urban centers, but also very important in planning for rural settings in a way that would create a harmonious society. Strategic spatial planning and development has increasingly been used in order to ensure that large population can be sustained within a given location (Yumin, 2013). The United States has been experiencing a consistent growth of population over the years.

However, land as one of the most important factors of production cannot be increased to reflect the proportional increase of the population. For this reason, public planners have the responsibility of coming up with an appropriate strategic spatial development planning, which would ensure that the limited natural resources are used sustainably to meet the limitless demands of people (Morphet, 2010). This research will focus on strategic spatial development planning as a way of finding solution to the increasing population.

Literature Review

According to Grijzen (2010) spatial planning has been in existence for over two decades, but to many, it is a relatively new concept that is still under development. Spatial planning has been one of the best planning strategies that have been used in order to manage the use of limited land space.

Faludi (2002) defines spatial planning as, “A method used by the public sector to influence the distribution of people and activities in spaces of various scales, and also include land use, urban, regional, transport and environmental planning.” Spatial planning, though considered an affair of the national or local government, can also be used in other areas to ensure that there is harmony in the society.

Principles and Dimensions of Land Use Planning Process

It is important to understand principles and design of land use planning process. One of the most important principles of land use planning defines the need to respect physical characteristics of land. This means that the slopes, soil type and unique environmental and geological characteristics must be respected when planning for land use.

The design taken in land use planning process is always conscious of the needs of the local people. According to Gill (2009), every land-use project is always unique in itself and will always use different approaches. It is important to understand the principles and dimensions of land use planning process. As Gunder and Hillier (2009) noted, it is important to ensure that the approach taken does not ignore the needs of the local community where the project is conducted.

In fact Janssen and Veen (2008) says that another important principle is that it should always involve the local community with the aim of making their land use process better. Although land- use planning projects may take different approaches, there is a common outline that should be followed to ensure that the project is successful.

It is necessary to discuss land use planning processes in order to understand some of their dimensions. It involves a series of steps, with each step having specific activities that should be conducted. The first step is the establishment of goals. The planning team should start by defining the goals that is intended to be achieved by this process.

This would involve determining the needs of the people and the government, and determining the land area to be covered by the project. The second step would involve organizing the work that is to be done. The involved authorities would need to identify the planning team, draw the schedule, and assign team members specific tasks (Clinton, 2001). The team should then identify the problem with the current land use strategies which the project seeks to solve.

The team would need to identify opportunities for positive change that may be taken in this plan. The identified opportunities should be worth the change that is to be implemented. The fifth step would be evaluation of land suitability. Hillier (2007) says that for every project that is set to be conducted on a piece of land, it is necessary to ensure that the land set aside is suitable to meet its needs.

For instance, it may not be appropriate to carry out a road development project on a land that is set aside for forest coverage. This is because it would encourage encroachment into that forest and its value would be lost (Wilson & Piper, 2010). This would necessitate the sixth step which involves appraising alternatives. The team would need to evaluate economic, social, and environmental concerns in the land use planning.

The seventh stage would be to choose the best option. It is appropriate to involve the public when choosing the best option because this plan would affect them directly. Their participation would ensure that the project has their support, and that its impact will be positive to them and to the government. When this is done successfully, the team should then prepare the land-use plan (Callies, 2009).

This will involve making appropriate allocation on how the piece of land will be used to meet the needs of the locals. The team would finally implement the plan if it is assured that it meets the needs of all the stakeholders, and that the outcome of the project would offer superior value to these stakeholders as opposed to what it offers currently. There will be a monitoring team that would evaluate the progress of the plan and make necessary revisions to it in order to ensure that the intended goal is achieved.

Principles and Dimensions of Structural Planning Process

Principles and dimensions of structural planning takes into account a number of factors. This process involves understanding how specific developmental projects should be planned in order to use the available space in the most economical manner. The dimension of structural planning process always takes into consideration a number of factors in order to achieve the desired success.

There is no universal way of approaching structural planning project. Each project would assume a different approach depending on the structure that is planned for in that area. When a government develops a structural project in a given area, it would be necessary to involve the locals in the project because they have the better understanding of the current benefits of land use (Brink, 2007).

There is no clear specific approach that has been developed as the specific conventional method that should be followed in structural planning process because the plans are always based on the nature of the project itself (Lu & Robinson, 2008). However, it is always an accepted principle that the plan should involve the local community to ensure that the project will offer superior value to the government and members of the public.

Principles and Dimensions of Spatial Development Planning Process

The principles and dimension of spatial development planning process defines how spatial developments should be designed to maximize on the usage of space (Berke, 2006). One of the main principles of spatial development planning process is that it seeks to integrate development projects at transnational, national, and subnational levels in order to ensure that there is a uniform approach to land use (Bowman, 2009).

Another important factor is that spatial development planning process offers an opportunity where the national government can coordinate its land use projects in a uniform way within the country, and also be able to achieve a regional goals and policies set by regional bodies (Ren, 2013).

For instance, the North American countries have always been focused on the reduction of greenhouse gases. Spatial development planning processes taken at national and subnational levels should always be sensitive of the goals set by regional organizations. For instance, there might be a need to ensure that a certain percentage of land is maintained as a forested region (Palermo & Ponzini, 2010).

Compare Planning Process

It is clear that the above three land planning processes have a number of similarities and differences. The three planning activities to be compared include land- use planning process, structural planning process and spatial development planning process.

Bell (2005) warns that unless due care is taken, it is always easy to misinterpret the three planning processes to mean the same thing. As Altrock (2006) notes, all the three planning processes are concerned with how a country’s natural resources can be planned for in a more productive manner, the three processes are concerned with different aspects of management of space in various developmental activities

Land use planning specifically involves planning how land can be used in the most effective way without affecting the local community, while still ensuring that it remains sustainable for future use (Randolph, 2004). On the other hand, structural planning process involves how different construction projects can maximize the use of the limited space in order to achieve their objectives.

Spatial development planning process looks at various development activities with the view of ensuring that the current developmental activities are sustainable, and that they do not interfere with the future developmental needs (Larsson, 2006). It would be necessary to discuss the results that were obtained from the comparison of the three planning processes.

Results of the Comparison

This research compared closely the activities involved in land use planning process, structural planning process, and spatial development planning process. The focus of this comparison was to determine some of the common planning features in the two planning processes, and some of the existing differences.

The results obtained showed that the three planning processes share some common factors. It was clear that in all the three planning processes, monitoring and evaluation would be done periodically. When conducted, the evaluating team would always consider a comprehensive approach of the entire process.

However, a lot of differences came out. The analysis showed that land-use planning process mainly focused on sustainable use of land while structural planning process and spatial development planning process involves how the limited space can be utilized to achieve developmental needs. It is also clear that while land use planning is always a public affair, structural planning and spatial development planning processes are considered discreet. These results are further demonstrated in the table below.

Table Comparing the Result

The table below shows some of the similarities and differences in land use planning, structural planning process, and spatial development planning process.

Land Use Planning process Structural Planning Process Spatial Development Planning Process
The method involves regulating land use by designating specific areas of development The method involves regulation of development of structures within designated areas The method involves promotion sustainable usage of renewable resources in the environment.
Land use planning process is discrete and aims at developing blueprint to be used in a specific area. Structural planning process is discreet, but active participation of members of public is needed. Spatial development planning process is discrete and aims at developing alternatives of how renewable resources should be used (Alterman, 2001).
The planning process seeks to obtain direct change on the current land use by introducing new activities to be carried out in a given space. The planning process seeks to find the best way in which structures can be put up to maximize the use of land The main focus is to mitigate against negative environmental impacts of development projects by promoting use of renewable resources
Monitoring and evaluation of such plans are periodic, but always involve analysis of the entire plan in order to determine their appropriateness given on the changing environmental factors (Leung, 2002). Monitoring and evaluation of these plans are periodic. The aim of the evaluation is to ensure that the structures put up follows the guidelines set up on sustainable land use. Monitoring and evaluation of such plans are periodic, with specific focus on determining the possible changes in the plan that would enhance environmental conservation.

It is clear from the above table that although some similarities exists in the three planning processes, the differences are numerous in the two approaches.


Strategic spatial development planning has become a popular approach of managing land use. The population is constantly on the rise, especially in the major urban centers around the world. There has been a need to find the best approach of ensuring that the increasing population is settled within the limited space in a way that would be sustainable. Strategic spatial planning has been considered as the best way of achieving this.


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