WHILE PLANNING IN ITS MOST literal form refers to the creation of a plan in an urban context, in reality the term has a far broader and more complicated definition. For example, planning can refer to matters of safety, that is, the prevention of natural disaster, as well as issues such as aesthetics, the environment, suburbanization and transportation.
The history of planning—that is the act of deliberately arranging the urban form for the sake of beauty and/or convenience—can be said to begin with the history of urban settlements and dates for quite literally thousands of years. Instrumental to its adoption were the Romans, who undertook planning for the purposes of civil convenience and military defense. The basic Roman plan consisted of an outer city wall within which were placed a grid of streets, arranged around an open space known as a plaza. Although city walls are no longer a principal element of city planning, the grid form has persevered and is evident in the morphology of many cities, including BARCELONA (SPAIN), the towns and cities of North and Latin America, and Glasgow (Scotland).
However, it is a Greek architect, Hippodamus, who is widely acknowledged as being the father of urban planning through his plan for the settlement of Miletus, a plan that utilized a grid form. Arguably as a consequence of Hippodamus’s interest in city design, the art of planning became closely tied to the ideals of architecture, and at particular times of history, this relationship has been further fortified, for example, in the Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. Urban design, for instance—the practice of smaller scale and more three-dimensional spatial design—still retains a largely architectural outlook and is still closely tied to its sister art of urban or town/city planning.
To define planning is extremely problematic in part because of the broad nature of modern urbanism. However, at its most simple, city, town, or urban planning can be said to be a public-based activity that deals with the large-scale design of the built environment within a municipal or metropolitan context. Regional planning, on the other hand, is very much considered a 20th-century invention, a type of public-based planning that, as its name implies, tends to deal with the distribution of regional activities or infrastructure at, within, and about the largest metropolitan centers. The origins of regional planning center upon the County of London Plan (1943) and Greater London Regional Plan (1944) by Sir Patrick Abercrombie (1879-1957), a former lecturer at the School of Civic Design, Liverpool University. Regional planning is arguably the urban planning of the largest urban places, such is their modern spatial scales.
The term town planning was first coined in the early 1900s in Britain as part of the widening professional architectural interest in the built environment, partly a consequence of the Garden City idea by Ebenezer Howard, which was developed in practice by Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker, who were instrumental in the passing of the Housing, Town Planning Etc. Act in 1909—the world’s first legislative piece to include town planning in its title. Although early-20thcentury town planning was closely associated with Garden City, it has since this time undergone a series of dramatic developments.
By way of example, modernist town planning can be seen to begin after the creation of a European organization, the International Congress of Modern Architecture, in 1928, which not only promoted
modernist architectural forms but perceived that urban betterment in the social and economic sense could be attained via the design of buildings and laying out of cities. Charles-Édouard Le Corbusier (1887–1965), for example, was instrumental in the adoption of modernist principles in planning practice.
City planning, on the other hand, is a somewhat different activity from town planning and is generally considered to be the arranging or willful influencing of land-use distribution that can be practiced upon either green-field or brown-field sites (i.e. built or unbuilt urban areas). The Romans are widely noted as being pioneers of this type of planning.