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What is Urban Planning?

What is Urban Planning?

Krystal Paisley

October 26, 2022

Urban planning isn’t a new concept. The earliest known concept of urban planning dates from 3000 through 2001 BC! However, urban planning is also something we often take for granted.


For the streets we drive or walk down, the parks we enjoy, and the ease of accessing basic needs, like water—thank an urban planner. Urban planning is a never-ending process that requires regular evaluation and updates to meet a community’s current and future needs.


What is urban planning? Let’s break down the basics, why it matters, and how ms urban planners create community-centric designs.

The Basics

Urban planning is precisely what it sounds like—planning urban spaces—but this concept can also apply to suburbs, regions, and rural areas. You may have heard the terms city planning, regional planning, or municipal planning, which, at their core, are all variations of planning and urban planning.


When it comes to urban planning, planning focuses on improving an existing urban area and creating new urbanization within a given region. It’s not as simple as placing various things on a map; it requires coordination with local governments, residents, private companies, and much more. This careful coordination ensures the changes align with the current and future needs of the community. Urban planners don’t just look at today. They look five, twenty, and sometimes even fifty years into the future.


Urban planning also requires coordination with the many elements of a city and those responsible for maintaining said elements.


Some of the many pieces include: 


  • Roads, streets, and bridges
  • Bike paths
  • Sidewalks
  • Landscapes
  • Parks
  • Water infrastructure
  • The environment
  • Physical buildings and structures
  • Other public spaces
  • The local economy
  • …and the list goes on and on


According to the American Planning Association (APA), “The goal of planning is to maximize the health, safety, and economic well-being of all people living in our communities. This involves thinking about how we can move around our community, how we can attract and retain thriving businesses, where we want to live, and opportunities for recreation. Planning helps create communities of lasting value.”

Community-Driven Approach to Comprehensive Plans

The term comprehensive plan is used by our urban planners. Why? Because any urban planning should truly be comprehensive!


At ms, we take pride in our comprehensive approach to urban planning. The ms urban planners understand that the comprehensive planning process is a chance to authentically engage the local community on their priorities for the future. Not only does this approach determine the specific wants and needs of the community, but it also increases the implementation of the comprehensive plan itself.


Each community is different, and ms urban planners provide a public-centric approach to every comprehensive plan and urban planning project. The team engages with local residents, businesses, and other stakeholders in a variety of ways.


Some examples of how the ms urban planners engage the community includes:


  • Websites and online engagement tools
  • Social media and traditional news media
  • Mailers and postcards
  • Planning pop-ups
  • Hands-on planning and interactive meetings


These are just a handful of the tools that ms urban planners use to engage the community when developing a comprehensive plan.


We take pride in our approach to community planning. Want to see it in action? Check out the Knox County Village Strategic Plans project, Canfield Comprehensive Plan project, and the Mahoning River Revitalization Project to see ms planners making a difference.

Read More

This blog post is just a scratch on the surface. Check out the links below to find out more:


Let’s Talk

Let’s talk about comprehensive plans, urban plans, or whatever you may consider planning for your community.


Whether you’d like to reimagine your downtown area, see an opportunity for economic development, find out what your residents want, or imagine the future, an urban planning initiative can help.


The ms urban planners can help you prepare your community for the future while keeping your local community in mind. Reach out to us at We’d love to hear from you!


Are you an urban planner looking for a new opportunity? Visit the ms Careers page to find an opportunity near you.