by topics

Topic: Spatial planning



‘The term consists of “bios” and “mimesis”, which means “life” and “imitation” respectively — A method of innovation that aims to provide sustainable solutions to humankind's problems in a variety of areas such as the production of new materials, manufacturing processes, construction, and new product development by copying or adapting and employing ideas from nature’ (Emery, 2011, p. 27).


Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model

‘The study of the progressive, mutual accommodation, throughout the life span, between a growing human organism and the changing immediate environments in which it lives, as this process is affected by relations obtaining within and between these immediate settings, as well as the larger social contexts, both formal and informal, in which the settings are embedded, ranging from the scope of “microsystem”, to “mesosystem”, “exosystem” and “macrosystem”’ (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, pp. 514-516).


Build, operate and transfer (BOT)

‘An arrangement that the government licenses the firm to build (B) a project and then to operate (O) the project for a certain period, normally 5 to 30 years, and finally, at the end of the concession period, to transfer (T) the project at no cost to the government’ (Qiu & Wang, 2011, p. 127).


Bureaucratic (organisational) decision making model

The model is ‘as "the organizational process", in which the organization's hierarchical structure and systematized routines, or standard operating procedures, are the major determinants of the decision process’ (Allison, 1971, as cited in Chaffee, 1983, p.22).


Citizen participation

‘A process which provides private individuals an opportunity to influence public decisions and has long been a component of the democratic decision-making process’ (Parker, 2002).


City Beautiful Movement

‘The City Beautiful Movement was inspired by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, with the message that cities should aspire to aesthetic value for their residents’ (The New York Preservation Archive Project, 2016).


Climate change

‘Climate change is the long-term alteration of temperature and normal weather patterns in a place. This could refer to a particular location or the planet as a whole’ (National Geographic Society, 2019). Increasingly, people use the term ‘climate crisis’ to reflect the exigency of the climate conditions.


Cost benefit analysis

‘Cost benefit is used to assist choice between alternative decisions. It does so by comparing the costs and benefits that will flow from the alternatives as a guide to which choice will bring the greater margin of benefits over costs or the greater net return in benefits for resources invested’ (Lichfield, 1966, pp.215).



‘The process of making choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative resolutions’ (FYCM, n.d.)


Design with nature

‘The way we occupy and modify the earth is best when it is planned and designed with careful regard to both the ecology and the character of the landscape’ (Weller et al., n.d.).


Development control
  1. An urban management process that ‘ensures the persistent growth and management of settlements with orderliness, improved settlement reflection, healthy and aesthetics. It also ensures that the environmental challenges as a result of settlement growth can be reduced to bearable levels’ (Vivan, Kyom, Balasom, 2013)
  2. The process of considering and granting or refusing permission for development. (Huxley, 2009, p.193)


Ebenezer Howard

‘Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928) is known for his publication Garden Cities of To-morrow (1898), the description of a utopian city in which man [sic] lives harmoniously together with the rest of nature and with one another through urban design and co-ownership of land. The publication led to the founding of the Garden city movement, that realized several Garden Cities in Great Britain at the beginning of the Twentieth Century’ (Planetizen, 2019).


(Economic) base multiplier

‘Ratio of the total number of jobs created to the number of basic jobs created. A higher economic base multiplier implies a larger effect of the basic job creator on the total number of jobs’ (Business Dictionary).



‘The notion of creating images of the future to serve as goals or guides for planning decisions’ (Shipley, 2002) and ‘a clear guidance that sets the context for development based upon a clear vision of the future’ (Roberts, 1996, cited in Shipley, 2002).



‘“An end to which a planned course of action is directed.” Goals may involve getting something the actor does not have or giving up something the actor does have. The goals of planned action may be categorized on the basis of specificity as ideals, objectives, and policies. These may be considered as directions, regions, and points in value space, respectively’ (Hill, 1968, p.22).


Goals achievement matrix

An approach for alternatives evaluation which analyzes the impacts of each alternative with the respecting impacted groups and weightings in form of matrix (Hill, 1968).


Gross Floor Area (GFA)

‘The Gross Floor Area of a building, as defined in Building (Planning) Regulation 23(3)(a), shall be “the area contained within the external walls of the building measured at each floor level (including any floor below the level of the ground), together with the area of any balcony in the building, which shall be calculated from the overall dimensions of the balcony (including the thickness of the sides thereof), and the thickness of the external walls of the building”’ (HKIS, 1999, p.10).


Hierarchy of plans

A hierarchy of plans refers plans implemented at different geographical scales, ranging from global, national, regional, city, district to neighbourhood levels.


Hong Kong Planning Standard and Guidelines

‘The Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG) is a Government manual of criteria for determining the scale, location and site requirements of various land uses and facilities. This manual is applied in planning studies, preparation/revision of town plans and development control’ (Planning Department, 2018, p.1). For the full document, please refer to the reference (Planning Department, 2020).


Horizontal and vertical coordination

‘From a regional and rural development perspective, horizontal coordination can refer both coordination among actors operating at the same territorial scale and among sectors’. ‘“Vertical” coordination can in general be defined as the promotion of efficiency and resilience in multi-tiered systems’ (Gløersen & Michelet, 2014, p.3).


Industrial revolution

‘The transition from an agrarian economy to an economy based on the use of coal-fired machinery to manufacture an increasingly wide range of goods. The process began in Britain in the 18th century after the invention of the steam engine’. Since then, it has spread all over the world (Porta & Last, 2018).


Land suitability analysis

‘Land Suitability Analysis (LSA) is a GIS-based process applied to determine the suitability of a specific area for considered use, i. e. it reveals the suitability of an area regarding its intrinsic characteristics (suitable or unsuitable)’ (Jafari & Zaredar, 2010, p.441).


Land use compatibility

‘The characteristics of different uses or activities that permit them to be located near each other in harmony and without conflict. The designation of permitted and conditionally permitted uses in a zoning district is intended to achieve compatibility’ (The Institute for Local Government, 2010, p.13).


Land use planning

‘Land use planning is a planning technique to improve the quality of life in urban areas. Areas are assigned specific activities based on various parameters which will help in increasing overall efficiency of the urban area. The major categories on the basis of activities include residential, commercial, transportation, public, and semi-public use, government offices, etc. This categorization is considered essential to keep a balance of different activities taking place in an area’ (Planning Tank, n.d.).


Location quotients

‘Location quotient (LQ) is a valuable way of quantifying how concentrated a particular industry, cluster, occupation, or demographic group is in a region as compared to the nation. It can reveal what makes a particular region “unique” in comparison to the national average.

In more exact terms, location quotient is a ratio that compares a region to a larger reference region according to some characteristic or asset. Suppose X is the amount of some asset in a region (e.g., manufacturing jobs), and Y is the total amount of assets of comparable types in the region (e.g., all jobs). X/Y is then the regional “concentration” of that asset in a region. If X’ and Y’ are similar data points for some larger reference region (like a state or nation), then the LQ or relative concentration of that asset in the region compared to the nation is (X/Y) / (X’/Y’)’ (Sentz, 2011, p.1).


Master plan

‘A master plan is a dynamic long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development. Master planning is about making the connection between buildings, social settings, and their surrounding environments. A master plan includes analysis, recommendations, and proposals for a site’s population, economy, housing, transportation, community facilities, and land use. It is based on public input, surveys, planning initiatives, existing development, physical characteristics, and social and economic conditions’ (The World Bank, n.d.).


Model split

‘Modal Split, also called mode share or mode split, is the percentage of travellers using a particular type of transportation or number of trips using said type. In freight transportation, this may be measured in mass. Modal spilt is the third stage of the travel demand modelling.’ (MBASkool, 2019a)


Modern planning

Modern planning was a response to the emergence of urban problems such as overcrowding and sanitation issues in the course of the Industrial Revolution. While the birth of modern planning aimed to improve the living environment of the working class, its evolution has become more controversial and is seen by many as a tool to favour capitalist economic development (Monclús & Díez, 2018).



‘Objectives are defined operationally so that either the existence or non-existence of a desired state or the degree of achievement of this state can be established’ (Hill, 1968, p.22).


Plan evaluation

‘The concept of evaluation comprehends every mental, cognitive, axiological and instrumental process of value assignment (whatever the type of value one is considering)’... ‘Evaluation measures specific aspects of the plan with the purpose of determining its value. It is the process used to measure how effective the plan is to achieve its goals and to enables decision-making based on the level of quality demonstrated’ (Amado & Cavaco, 2015, p. 29).


Plan generation

The generation of a plan through research (a systematic exploration of practices elsewhere) and creative design with appropriate methods and skills (Bayne, 1995).


Plan implementation

‘“Implementation” is essentially more related to the spatial plans (comparing to “realization”, which only refers to actual physical functioning in the space) and the set of planning solutions that may include construction, policy and the strategy of behavior in space, as well as protection of space, the possibility of applying a rule, and so on, and it is therefore justifiable and necessary to use it for the purposes of spatial planning’ (Stefanović et al., 2018, p.60).


Planning balance sheet

‘Planning Balance Sheet establishes a framework of objectives and sub attributes and then scores and weights each item for each option. ... It shows the trade-offs between cost, performance and impact and can also be used for sensitivity testing’ (Greater Wellington Regional Council & Transit New Zealand, 2005, p.1).


Plot ratio

‘Plot ratio is defined as the ratio between the gross floor area of a building and the area of the site on which it is erected (the Net Site Area).’ (Planning Department, 2018b, p.4)


Policy analysis

One of the four planning traditions, in which planners ‘tend to think of themselves as technicians or technocrats (Political analyst), serving the existing centers of power—large private corporations and the state’...‘They believe that by using appropriate scientific theories and mathematical techniques (rationality), they can, at least in principle, identify and precisely calculate “best solutions”’(Friedmann, 1988, pp.12-13).


Political bargaining model

A decision-making model that involves long bargaining processes ‘to keep powerful political and economic players from abusing their control over the provision of structural services’ (Doron & Sened, 2001, p.14).


Resilient cities

‘Cities that have the ability to absorb, recover and prepare for future shocks (economic, environmental, social & institutional).’ And they ‘promote sustainable development, well-being and inclusive growth’ (OECD, n.d.).


Scenario planning

‘Scenario planning encourages strategic thinking and helps to overcome thinking limitations by creating multiple (possible) futures. In this way, it can help to shape the future according to the values and desires of society’ (Stojanović et al., 2014, p.81).


Sectoral planning

‘Sectoral planning is strategic planning for defined sector or industries of the economy’ (Parishmwad, 2010, p.1).


Settlement health map

‘A settlement health map showing the broad nature of multiple impacts of human settlement form on health’ (Barton & Grant, 2013, p.131).


Short term tenancy

'"Short Term Tenancy" is an arrangement where the government leases temporarily vacant government land to the private sector on a short-term basis.' ... 'Everyone has the right to rent those sites theoretically' (Liber Research Community, n.d.).


Social learning

One of the four planning traditions identified by Friedmann (1988). In this tradition, planners (social learning theorists) believe that ‘knowledge is derived from experience and validated in practice, and therefore it is integrally a part of action. They change residents’ social behaviors through social experimentation, careful observation of the results, and enhancing willingness to admit to error and to learn from it’ (Friedmann, 1988, pp.13-14). Thus, planners aim at empowering residents to put their knowledge into action to change existing power relationships.


Social mobilization

One of the four planning traditions, in which ‘planning appears as a form of politics, conducted without the meditations of “science”. Nevertheless, scientific analysis, particularly in the form of social learning, plays an important role in the transformative process sought by social mobilization. Change is onset by politics of disengagement or by politics of confrontation’ (Friedmann, 1988, p.14).


Social reform

One of the four planning traditions, in which ‘[t]he tradition of social reform focuses on the role of the state in societal guidance. It is chiefly concerned with finding ways to institutionalize planning practice and make action by the state more effective; Under this mindset, planners work for a ‘“scientific endeavor”, and one of their main preoccupations is with using the scientific paradigm to inform and to limit politics to what are deemed to be its proper concerns’ (Friedmann, 1988, pp.11-12). While striving for change, the plan actually reinforces the existing power relationship.


Spatial justice

‘Spatial Justice is a term put forward by the critical urbanist Ed Soja in his book Seeking Spatial Justice. It calls for a reflection on urban space focused on the spatial nature of social interaction and the inequalities that are produced and reproduced through spatial relationships. In a way, seeking spatial Justice advocates for greater control over how spaces are produced. In the words of Ed Soja spatial justice “seeks to promote more progressive and participatory forms of democratic politics and social activism, and to provide new ideas about how to mobilise and maintain cohesive collations and regional confederations of grassroots social activist.” In a way, seeking spatial Justice is about people’s control over how urban space is imagined, planned/designed and lived. It is both a goal and a tool to be used in the process of design’ (100 Resilient Cities, 2004).


Spatial planning

‘Spatial planning seeks a more holistic approach that aims to combine and translate sector-based policy (economic, social, transport, energy) into a spatial form, recognizing that how a policy is geographically integrated and implemented will make a difference to its success.’ Spatial plan expresses where and in what form policy will unfold, coordinates and aligns initiatives to avoid duplication of effort or divergent policies being adopted, and sets out the governance framework for delivery’ at different geographical scales. (Rogers et al., 2013).


Strategic planning

‘Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization's direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. Effective strategic planning articulates not only where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful’ (Balanced Scorecard Institute, n.d.).


Sustainability impact assessment (SIA)

‘An SIA has two main functions: (i) it is a methodological soft policy instrument for developing integrated policies which take full account of the three sustainable development dimensions and which include cross-cutting, intangible and long-term considerations; and (ii) a process for assessing the likely economic, social and environmental effects of policies, strategies, plans and programmes before they have been formulated’ (OECD, 2010, p.1).


SWOT Analysis

'A SWOT analysis is a high-level strategic planning model that helps organizations identify where they’re doing well and where they can improve, both from an internal and external perspective. It is an acronym for "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats"' (Jackson, n.d.).


Tertiary Planning Unit (TPU)

The Tertiary Planning Unit (TPU) is a geographic reference system demarcated by the Planning Department for the territory of Hong Kong. Each TPU is subdivided into a number of Street Blocks (SB) for urban areas and Village Clusters (VC) for rural areas (Hong Kong Government, 2004).


Town Planning Ordinance

The Town Planning Ordinance is a procedural legal document and legislation ‘to promote the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the community by making provision for the systematic preparation and approval of plans for the lay-out of areas of Hong Kong as well as for the types of building suitable for erection therein and for the preparation and approval of plans for areas within which permission is required for development’ (Department of Justice, 2017).


Traffic impact assessment

‘Traffic impact assessments (TIAs) are crucial to understanding how a proposed development will impact the surrounding transport network’ (Cooley et al., 2016, p.1).


Trip distribution

‘Trip generation estimates the number and types of trips originating and terminating in zones. Trip distribution is the process of computing the number of trips between one zone and all other. A trip matrix is drawn up with the sums of rows indicating the total number of trips originating in zone i and the sums of columns the total number of destinations attracted to zone’ (Planning Tank, 2019).


Trip generation

‘A trip is usually defined in transport modeling as a single journey made by an individual between two points by a specified mode of travel and for a defined purpose. Trips are often considered as productions of a particular land-use and attracted to other specified land-uses. The number of trips arises in unit time, usually for a specified zonal land use, is called the trip generation rate’ (Planning Tank, 2019).



There are three categories of uncertainties in spatial planning: uncertainties about facts (regarding knowledge about present and future environments); uncertainties about values; and uncertainties about related-decision making areas (Friend and Jessop, 1969).

‘Situation where the current state of knowledge is such that

  1. the order or nature of things is unknown,
  2. the consequences, extent, or magnitude of circumstances, conditions, or events is unpredictable, and
  3. credible probabilities to possible outcomes cannot be assigned’ (Business Dictionary, n.d.).


Universal design

‘“Universal design is an approach to design that incorporates products as well as building features which, to the greatest extent possible, can be used by everyone.” Another definition is: “Universal design may be defined as the best approximation of an environmental facet to the needs of the maximum possible number of users”’ (Lawton, 2001, as cited in Iwarsson & Ståhl, 2003, p.61).


Urban design

‘Encompassing the practices of architecture and planning, urban design is primarily concerned with place-making which has captured geographical imaginations’ (Street, 2009, p.32). Urban design is not a technical or value neutral process, but ‘is infused by ethical and moral standpoints about what the “good city” is or ought to be. The aesthetics of a place reveal much about social and political structure and process and, in turn, social and political structure and process are revealed, in part, through the form and texture of the built environment’ (Street, 2009, p.39).


Urban regeneration

‘Comprehensive and integrated vision and action which seeks to resolve urban problems and bring about a lasting improvement in the economic, physical, social and environment condition of an area that been subject to change or offers opportunities for improvement’ (Roberts, 2017, p.18).


Urban Renewal Fund (URF)

An independent organization in Hong Kong that was ‘incorporated on August 15, 2011 to act as the trustee and settlor of the Trust Fund. From November 10, 2011, the Trust Fund is also entitled to exemption under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112) and is, therefore, exempt from all taxes payable under the Ordinance’ (Urban Renewal Fund, n.d.).

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