Very unfortunate that since Freetown from Kissy to St John was planned by the British, development of new settlements after independence has been haphazard due 100% to an undisciplined, unfocused, money loving Ministry of Lands which long ago put its mercenary interests above that of the national good.
Urban planning is a valuable force for city leaders to achieve sustainable development. Planning informs infrastructure and services investments, balancing demands for growth with the need to protect the environment. If the ministry had been doing is work diligently, the Sugar Loaf tragedy wouldn’t have happened.
Many more such disasters are waiting to happen.
Urban planning helps leaders transform vision into implementation, using space as a key resource for development and engaging stakeholders along the way. Good planning can help city leaders to drive constructive changes:
Thriving cities have a vision and follow it through with a framework to develop in an orderly manner. A framework is not about centralized command and control but a way to anticipate needs, coordinate efforts, and draw a path to a horizon that is collectively held. Major efforts to enhance livability, prosperity and equity have taken place in a number of well known cities. Such transformational impact is not a product of spontaneity, instead of constructive planning.
Anticipating the future allows us to be better prepared today. By staying ahead of challenges, city leaders are ready to see opportunities and manage risks from a vantage point. With reliable information on the current situation, they will be able to make connections between the long-term vision and short term actions. On the other hand, cities that don’t actively plan for their future will develop chaotically like Freetown.
Local leaders are elected and appointed to deliver improvement. Given the magnitude of the challenges cities face, it is unlikely that all desired improvements will happen at once. Successful cities build momentum by undertaking priority projects that are aligned with the vision.
An appropriate urban form is very important - Housing, employment, accessibility and safety are key concerns for urban dwellers. These topics are strongly correlated to urban form. The right policies on density, land use, public space and the layout of infrastructure and services can make a difference in delivering quality of life at the right price point. Designing a spatial pattern that addresses citizens’ concerns is a means for delivering a better city.
Urban planning positively impacts urban economy - Making sure there are plenty of jobs in a city is a priority for local leaders. Planning coordinates the spatial
location and distribution of economic activity and facilitates value capture from public investment and the transformation of rural to urban land.
• Continuity generates credibility - Successful cities have ensured continuity of plans through political cycles, realizing that a stable road map would make them more credible. Investment is a long term endeavour that benefits from predictable conditions. Spatial planning is an asset to reduce uncertainties and thus its continuity contributes to the creation of transparent opportunities for an engaged society.
Anticipating is more cost effective than reacting to problems – Lands ministry and local leaders have the opportunity of driving constructive change if they move away from laissez faire. Cities that plan in sufficient scale would be in a position of anticipating rather than reacting, hence being able to tackle the root of the problem. Unplanned spatial patterns are inefficient and require more resources to maintain, and the high cost of bad or no decisions is likely to make them irreversible.