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Master Planning & Urban Design

What is Master Planning?

Master planning is a comprehensive plan that outlines the vision for a large project or development. It creates a framework that defines the relationships between buildings, circulation spaces, streets, street furniture, and other elements in order to guide developers and designers. The master planning framework should provide enough flexibility for this purpose.

Master planning plans are incorporated into a regulatory planning toolkit and can provide either rigid or basic guidance on design. The plan may also include commentary on other aspects such as phasing, funding, scheduling, etc. Planning consultants can provide a range of services related to master planning, including site development, urban and landscape design, planning policy, market analysis, sustainability, and more.

What is included in Master Planning?

Master planning includes recommendations and analysis on a variety of issues, such as the economy of a site, transportation, community buildings, land use, population, etc. The formulation of the plan takes into account public involvement, surveys, existing developments, social and economic conditions, and physical characteristics.

In a master planning exercise, the following factors should be considered:

  • Heritage and local character
  • Topography and landscape
  • Views and key buildings
  • Choice of materials
  • Ecology, flood risk, and preservation of biodiversity
  • Shape, style, and scale of buildings
  • Use and occupiers
  • Use of neighboring buildings

A master planning plan will also include a Memorandum of Agreement, which confirms the commitment and participation of stakeholders in the implementation of the plan. The agreement should include a description of the master planning purpose, scope of works, map/plan, key milestones, implementation strategy, and project manager.

Master planning can also include an implementation and phasing schedule, act as a guide for regeneration and attract investment, shape the urban environment, define amenities, and engage with the local community.

What are the benefits of Master Planning?

Master planning provides a clear strategy for future development decisions, ensures proper land usage management, and guides growth and future development of towns and cities. It also helps with budgeting and promotes regulated growth.