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Tough planning questions at World Planning Day

Factors that lead to the poor implementation of plans, land restitution, public participation and the role of planners in response to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic are some of the points that were probed at the three-day World Planning Day 2020 webinar which was held virtually from 4 to 6 November.

Planning experts from India, Poland, Slovenia, Russia, Romania, the United Kingdom, Malawi, Kazakhstan and Greece all converged for discussions under the theme ‘The Paradox of Planning Implementation Across the Globe’ and sub-themes on spatial planning, smart cities, the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) as well as Covid-19 and urban design.

The event was hosted in partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the South African Council of Planners (SACPLAN), South African Cities Network, South African Local Government Association and the Municipal Institute of Learning.

Durban was the official host city of the event which also served as a pre-congress event for the 56th International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) Virtual World Planning Congress which was held on 8 November.

In one of the sessions, Project Executive from eThekwini Municipality’s Development Planning Department, Lekha Allopi spoke on the factors which lead to the poor implementation of plans. Allopi cited a set of generic principles namely; institutional, political, social, economic and land, that apply in and affect planning across the globe.

“People migrating to the city causes the needs of communities to be everchanging. As much you have a plan that has been set, migration is happening on a daily basis and you find that the plan that you have prepared and adopted and now needs to be implemented is often undermined because of this migration and people setting up their own land uses and building works,” said Allopi.

For that reason, planning needs to become more robust and resilient in order to respond to such changes and there is a great need for collaboration between the spheres of the government across the globe, she added.

Head of the Department of Urban Design and Regional Planning at the Gdansk University of Technology in Poland and a member of ISOCARP, Piotr Lorens emphasised the need for cities to start thinking about a post oil era. “Post oil is underway, the resources we are using now are becoming more limited and although they will not be depleted in the next five years, we need to plan ahead for all our cities across the globe,” said Lorens.

SACPLAN Chairperson Khetha Zulu stressed that with all the changes and challenges the world is faced with including 4IR, smart cities and the ongoing pandemic “sticking to what we are familiar with is not going to work.”

He emphasised that planners are agents of change as they shape cities across the globe making the implementation of their plans paramount for service delivery.

Planning students from the University of Venda came out victorious in the World Town Planning Day Competition 2020, which was part of the event.

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