Master planning relates to the long-term, clear planning documentation that provides a guide to future development and growth of a town, city or larger area. It should be the conceptual blueprint that is referred to throughout the process. The idea behind a master plan is that it connects the dots between various factors, from buildings and social settings, as well as the environment surrounding an urban area.
A master plan within an urban landscape should include in-depth analysis of the area in question, make recommendations and proposals that suit the population of the area, the economy, as well as the best use of the land in terms of new housing, commercial space, transportation and community centres and amenities. At all stages there should be consultation with the public, planning authorities and development projects.
The role of a master plan is to cover any and all of the following:
- To develop a schedule of implementation, identifying the areas of priority that are to be acted upon
- Provide a clear framework of conceptualisation for a regeneration project of an urban area
- Used as a document that attracts potential investment from the private sector
- Define the different areas of an urban regeneration; into public use, semi-private and private spaces, alongside amenities for the public as a whole
- Provide a channel to engage with the local community in order to build an on-going consensus for regeneration
Designing a sustainable urban environment has to take place with the clear consent and consensus of the existing population. Without it, master planning only serves private investors, and over time this never plays out to be a successful approach. Integrating urbanism into master planning is a way of acknowledging that there is interdependence between communities themselves and the urban systems that they dwell within, including the impact of the economy as well as sustainability and climate change issues.
This can be clearly seen in certain UK towns that have had to plan ahead for the arrival for HS2 and high speed rail, which will drastically change otherwise small towns into potentially thriving commuter towns with faster access to large cities than ever before. The sustainability of a town and the plan to achieve growth has to be robust, and that is where a master plan comes into play.
A master plan takes into account the impact that any environment has on its inhabitants. For an urban environment this is crucial as a proposal can be designed in a way that delivers an urban landscape that has a positive impact on the wellbeing of a population. It can create a healthy work and lifestyle balance, whilst at the same time has a fully integrated and effective system for dealing with transportation issues, energy production and consumption, and waste management.
All of these things are vital to not only help the population of an urban area feel well looked after and happy in their life, but also to keep an economy running smoothly and to ensure that both private and public needs are looked after in terms of healthcare and transportation provisions.