urban planners development assessment city planning

What do town planners do?

By now, you should have learned that town planning is not a new field of expertise, with evidence dating back to the Ancient Egyptian era (over 5000 years ago).

Villages always had someone whose role was to ensure people are located close to a water source, aren’t sleeping in the same place they go to the toilet and aren’t in a spot that is going to flood etc.

Town planning is a multi-disciplinary field that involves social-science, engineering and design sciences.

In more recent years, the profession has become more complex and led to specialist fields of expertise. In property development, you have two main kinds of professionals to be concerned with:

  • Strategic planning
  • Development assessment

What is Strategic Planning?

People working in this field are most likely council or state government employees who are more holistically concerned with the development of the entire state, or council region. These people shape and control population growth by introducing planning schemes and legislations to shape the pattern of development.

What is a Development Assessment?

The Development Assessment (DA) field is what we like to call the front-line of the town planning world. People working in DA deal with the impacts of the strategic planners’ legislative work on a site by site basis.

In the private sector, the consultant town planner assists in guiding property developers to ensure their development will largely comply with the 5000+ page planning scheme while having no negative impacts upon the general amenity of the locality in which it is proposed.

Within this assessment, the consulting planner will look at things such as:

  • The individual land use and the suitability of the use in that area
  • The bulk and scale of the building
  • Population density
  • The effects of earthworks
  • Infrastructure design
  • Landscaping
  • Lighting
  • Park planning
  • Stormwater
  • Transport, access, parking, and servicing
  • Dealing with wastewater

Depending on the proposed land use, the consultant may need to liaise with other professional services to gather relevant documentation to support their assessment. For example, civil or traffic engineers, ecologists, economists, etc. For example, these might include:

  • A Site-Based Stormwater Management Plans
  • A ‘Needs Analysis’
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment

On the public side of the development assessment field, the council town planner role is to assess the consultant town planner’s work, to ensure it aligns with the authorities’ expectations for development in accordance with their local framework.

The council town planner (usually an ‘Assessment Manager’) is acting on behalf of the greater public, to ensure the proposed development is consistent with the intended style and scale of the development but is also in line with the community expectation for development.

You can learn more about town planning and development assessment in our detailed online course: https://learn.urpec.com.au/courses/online-2/

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