Regional Planning

Region means a tract of land; any area; a portion of earth’s surface. Regional planning deals with the efficient placement of land use activities, infrastructure and settlement growth across a larger area of land than an individual city or town. Regional planning is a sub-field of urban planning as it relates land use practices on a broader scale. Regional planning deals with the planning of areas which constitutes both urban and rural areas. Urban planning, city planning or town planning concerns a city or a delimited urban area which covers a city or town, however a regional plan can have number of urban areas.

A ‘region’ in planning terms can be administrative or at least partially functional and is likely to include a network of settlements and character area. A region scheme usually covers more than one local government area. The content of the scheme may vary for each region, but they generally set out broad land use zones or policy areas and identify land required for regional purposes. Regions require various land uses; protection of farm land, cities, industrial space, transportation hubs and infrastructure, military bases and wilderness. 

Integrating a much wider areas for overall growth of region is the purpose served by regional planning, planning for integration of rural area and the overall balanced development of the region. Fulfilling the needs of a backward region and providing higher order services for relatively developed areas. Strategies are formulated carefully to keep the goods and resources available to all the places as per their requirements.

Regional planning encompasses even larger area when compared to city planning, number of cities might be covered when considering a region but rural area remains at the core for which planning is to be done. Along with rural areas many lower level towns in addition to the villages witnessing transformation to towns also adds up to area for which regional plans is made. Regional plans can cut across the boundaries of different states.

Regional planning also helps in reducing the conflicts and competition for resources between cities in a region. Developing small towns or satellite towns helps in relieving the stress from higher order town thus increasing efficiency. Regional plans takes into account the economic, spatial and environmental goals and tries to address national level issues. Integrated development and critical analysis of functional linkages is one of the key to achieve the desired growth.

Unlike city planning where land use plans are prepared regional planning lays emphasis on policy for the region. Policies are them elaborated and objectives are formed which differ from area to area within the region. Regional plans are a must when cities start to influence development even in far places which might end up in under-utilization and wastage of resources without proper planning.
Polices have a larger and longer impact on the overall growth of region and might conflict with the land use plan or plan prepared for a specific city. Allocation of funds for different activities and different areas can also be taken up by the regional planning board/authority. Government intervention such as implementing a new scheme or policy for a region can also boost the growth perspectives and aide the policy prepared by regional board.

Reduced disparities help directly and indirectly by reducing forced migration, reducing trip lengths, providing better and more job opportunities in nearby areas, having the required services instead of letting them emerging randomly. A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) are also established to support the growth of a region and attract investments.

Regional plans take into account the existing condition of an area and all the surrounding areas. The urban area or the core area might have its own development plan in place for its growth and in such cases the existing plan is also taken into account. The existing plan helps in understanding the vision and growth of the existing urban areas and helps in formulating better policies for the surrounding area. Regional plan might help the existing urban area by decongesting it by catering to the need of satellite cities or developing nearby regions for industrial units.

City Planning & Regional Planning
City planning focuses on the land use plans, spatial growth and policies which are at local level (affecting that particular city or town), whereas in case of regional planning the emphasis on the policies is more. Those policies becomes the guidelines for the urban areas and their existing plans are modified accordingly. This helps in meeting the larger requirement of the whole region.

Additionally, regional plans cover more of national level policies and issues and strengthens integrated development. City planning looks as a limited area when compared to a regional plan. Regional plan covers rural areas and undeveloped areas too which are usually not covered in town plans. The categories, chapters, topics and aspects covered in both plans also differs because of the different needs and the existing developments. Village area, forests, undeveloped land and waste land might be completely missing from a city plans whereas it forms an important part of regional plan.

Importance & Need of Regional Plan
A city or any area might grow in size and hamper the development on its surrounding area. Over the decades it starts competing with the surrounding areas and this results in imbalance. It creates economic as well as functional misbalance in areas. Increases migration, decreases efficiency, results in undue waste of resources and might also find it difficult to meet its needs. To prevent such imbalance regional plans are very much required.

It helps in reducing disparities, promoting growth, promoting sustainable development, economic growth of collective region based on its potential. Also, issue of migration is also solved to an great extent because the required facilities are more evenly distributed rather than being concentrated in a specific urban area. These plans ensures a much better connectivity within the region and takes care of future growth.

Implementation of Regional Plans
Since regional plans covers various types of settlements they require multiple agencies working together for its implementation. This can be done in various manner, either forming a new development authority/regional board or giving this responsibility to an existing development authority. This newly formed body or the new department in existing development authority then works actively with various other departments. This is required because regional planners need to have a broad overview of the whole region. The plan formed needs to meet the requirement of whole region and at same time should also cater to the existing requirements.
Allocation of funds is another important aspect of regional planning as the funds are collected and received from various sources. There are various sources since the area covered under a regional plan is a part of various states and different administrative areas. Thus funding might be collectively from state government, central government, special allocation of funds and partially by its own means.

Objectives of Regional Planning
  • Economic growth
  • Attaining economic equality and social justice
  • Achieving full employment
  • Attaining economic self-reliance
  • Modernization of various sectors
  • Redressing imbalances in the economy
Principles of Regional Planning 
  • Resist development in flood plains or along earthquake faults. These areas may be utilized as parks or unimproved farmland.
  • Designate transportation corridors using hubs and spokes and considering major new infrastructure.
  • Some thought into the various settlements in the region may play, for example some may be administrative with others based upon manufacturing or transport.
  • Consider designating essential nuisance land uses locations, including waste disposal.
  • Designate green belt land or similar to resist settlement amalgamation and protect the environment.
  • Set regional level policy and zoning which encourages a mix of housing values and communities.
  • Consider building codes, zoning laws and policies that encourage the best use of the land.



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