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What is Urban Planning? What do Urban Planners Do?

Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Admin

Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks and their accessibility. Here we have discussed urban planning and the job description of architects and urban planners. Also, you can check below the top-recommended courses to learn urban planning. 


Urban planning encompasses preparing plans for and the regulation and management of towns, cities, and metropolitan regions. It attempts to organize socio-spatial relations across different scales of government and governance.

Urban planning is a valuable force for city leaders to achieve sustainable development. It distributes economic development within a given territory to reach social objectives and creates a framework for collaboration between local governments, the private sector, and the public.

An Urban Planner is a professional responsible for using land planning to develop communities, physical facilities and accommodate population growth in counties, cities, towns, and metropolitan areas.


What does an urban planner do?

Urban and regional planners review site plans submitted by developers. Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

Daily, Urban, and Regional Planners supervise or coordinate the work of urban planning technicians or technologists. They design, promote, or administer government plans or policies affecting land use, zoning, public utilities, community facilities, housing, or transportation.

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An urban planner is someone who develops plans and programs for the use of land. They plan to create communities, accommodate growth, or revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

Urban planners typically do the following:

  • Meet with public officials, developers, and the public regarding development plans and land use
  • Gather and analyze economic and environmental studies, censuses, and market research data
  • Conduct field investigations to analyze factors affecting land use
  • Review site plans submitted by developers
  • Prepare plans and studies
  • Conduct inspections
  • Prepare site approval documents
  • Coordinate with other local governments
  • Create and interpret maps and diagrams
  • Meet with public officials and the public regarding development plans and land use
  • Recommend approval or denial of proposals
  • Assess the feasibility of proposals and identify needed changes
  • Recommend whether proposals should be approved or denied
  • Present projects to planning officials and planning commissions
  • Stay current on zoning or building codes, environmental regulations, and other legal issues

Planners use various tools and technology in their work, including geographic information systems (GIS) tools that analyze and manipulate data. GIS is used to integrate the data with electronic maps.

For example, planners may use GIS to overlay a land map with population density indicators. They also use statistical software, visualization and presentation programs, financial spreadsheets, and other database and software programs.

Urban Planner Skills & Competencies

Urban planners need to have a lot of specific knowledge and experience to be good at their jobs. Still, they also need certain soft skills to help them manage the sometimes challenging government work environment.

  • Flexibility: Deadlines and specific priorities for projects often change, and planners need to adapt.
  • Verbal Communication: Planners need to interact with members of the public, including the local business community and members of elected councils and boards. It’s important to be able to communicate a municipality’s planning needs while also listening to the interests and priorities of others.
  • Leadership: Urban planners need to serve as point person on community projects, often overseeing a staff of other planners or local employees.
  • Analytical skills: Urban planners need to review a lot of data from environmental studies, market studies, population demographics, and more. They need to use that information to come up with the best possible solutions to planning problems.

What is the workplace of an Urban Planner like?

Most planners work for various government, real estate developers, nonprofits, and planning consulting firms. They work throughout the country in all municipality sizes, but most work in large metropolitan areas.

Most planners spend much of their time working with others. They often collaborate with public officials, engineers, architects, and developers and must give presentations, attend meetings, and manage projects.

Because planners must balance conflicting interests and negotiate deals, the work can be stressful. Planners face pressure from politicians, developers, and the public to design or recommend specific plans. They also sometimes work against tight deadlines.

Urban planners often travel to sites to inspect the features of the land. Those involved in inspecting development sites may spend much of their time in the field.


Most planners work during normal business hours, but many also work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with planning commissions or neighborhood groups.

Salary of Urban Planner

Average Basic Salary of Urban Planner  in the US: $57,905

Average Basic Salary of Urban Planner in India: INR 503,873

Note: The above salary data recorded on 11th March 2021.

Top Recommended Urban Planning Courses

1. What do Architects and Urban Planners do?

2. Professional Certificate in Inclusive and Sustainable Cities

3. Site Planning Online offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

4. CitiesX: The Past, Present, and Future of Urban Life Offered by Harvard University

5. Smart Cities, Management of Smart Urban Infrastructures Offered by EPFL

6. Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs by University of British Columbia

7. Professional Certificate in Buildings as Sustainable Energy Systems


8. Urban Nature: Connecting Cities, Nature and Innovation By Lund University

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