URBAN PLANNING: A NECESSITY

“By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.”- Socrates

The rates at which areas in states are developing, it will amaze you to see how people are turning structures into a piece of art. It will also amaze you that those same areas might as well have structures that are not in line with the planning regulations and yet this properties command a high rental and even sales value.

You also wonder what triggers this structural rush maybe some basic amenities fom the government – road, water, electricity, police station, hospitals, schools etc. or sometimes collective donations from the residents. These eyebrow areas, are they well-planned or do they just thrive on the recognition of the past or the effort of real estate investments? I will give kudos to all three of them but on the other way round some areas are not developing, not planned for and government neglects the enormous space it occupies and allows potential revenue to be tied down, keeping these areas less valued and its beauty locked.

We still have a wild gap of housing backlog and these revolve round the lower and middle class to fill the gap. Urban planning can unlock these revenues and trigger a massive migration to new sites that are planned. Urban planning is determining and drawing up plans for the future physical arrangement and condition of a community. It is a marriage between people and their surroundings, it is how the built environment influences human behavior and interactions.

Many states in the country do not have a detailed masterplan for a structured planned development of the state for investors to key into and even the states that have are not implementing the masterplan. In Nigeria, government intervention or involvement in the development of new communities by providing them with basic amenities to enable patronage has really failed because government business has always been business, that is, they keep maintaining and developing the developed areas because they tag them as high tax returns. Nevertheless, private sector can actiually take advantage of it as to balance the ratio by looking at developing the undeveloped areas (investing).

There are lots of vacant land across the country that could be used for a variety of useful purposes like Solar energy(prime location for extensive power plant), Wind energy, recreation, community garden, outdoor photography and movie shooting, Landscape supply storage, camp ground, athletic fields, golf course, outdoor storage facility, spiritual sanctuary etc all this pull traffic to such areas because of the value created.

The local government need to do more in making their areas more appealing to potential investors as there are local government areas with vast land wasting away without any farming being done and no structure for it to be habitable. Local government heads are saddled with the responsibility to market their locality and this can be done by putting in place structures that will make real estate investment in such locaities attractive and desirable (this is without prejudice to the fact that the State Government being the chief custodian of all land within the state is majorly repsonsible for urban planning within the state). When basic amenities are provided in different local governments and there is a good road network and transportation system it eases out on the densely populated areas and also aids in crashing the rental value of properties in this regions while at the same time opening other areas up for further investment.

Where the task is too herculean for the local governments to carry on and private partnership is not coming forth, it is best to communicate the investment potentials of these parts to the State Government so they can provide these amenities.

Collaborative planning, where they identify the issues to be addressed are catalysts that will trigger developers and developments, invite all stakeholders, community representatives, state govermment, planners etc for inputs and also create a common ground where you share repsonsibility wherein everybody feels like they are part of the system, which they are, and they feel the necesiity to preserve whatever improvements they have contibuted to the community or locality.

The government also needs ideas, help and lean thinkers in terms of reducing waste, saving cost, continous improvements in the creation of value.

The development of new areas is revenue for the government as it will trigger mass migration to these new areas and hence generate revenue from ground rent, tenement rate, levies from new businesses that will spring up in this new areas and other advantageous ripple effects of urban planning and multiplicity of cities.

As Socrates said in our opening quote, Wisdom is needed for city planners to effectively carry our their role and we pray this wisdom for our leaders, the citizens and those that can ensure a great urban community round the world.

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