by topics

Topic: Urban planning theory and practice


Advocacy planning
‘The concept of advocacy planning was given by Paul Davidoff. In this type of planning, there are various interest groups. They can be as follows: 1. political parties (in power or in opposition) 2. special interest groups such as groups against racial discrimination, pro or anti civil rights groups, chambers of commerce, labour organisations, NGOs aiming at protecting the environment etc. 3. Ad-hoc associations protesting against existing policies. These groups have their own needs which they represent through the preparation of plural plans’ (Planning Tank, 2019a, para.2).


Asset-based Community Development (ABCD)
‘Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is an approach to sustainable community-driven development. Beyond the mobilisation of a particular community, it is concerned with how to link micro-assets to the macro-environment. Asset Based Community Development’s premise is that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilizing existing, but often unrecognised assets. Thereby responding to challenges and creating local social improvement and economic development’ (Nurture Development Ltd., 2018, para.1).


Barrier free environment
‘Barrier-free means that our society is accessible for all people, whether people with disabilities or not. Thus, not only the handicapped person, but everyone such as children, elders, and pregnant women can also be benefited in an accessible society’ (Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth, n.d., para.2).


Circuits of capital
Circuits of capital refer to ‘the movement of capital as a circuit, which involves three forms that replace each other in turn: money capital, productive capital, and commodity capital’ (Otani, 2018, p.283). Money is turned into capital for production of commodities for buying and selling and from the capitalist perspective, with the aim minimising circulation costs and maximising profit.


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 marketing
City marketing ‘involves the definition of a city’s product (the city as a product) and its image, in such a way that its recipients will see it as to the marketing intended. So, city marketing plays an important role, forming a bridge between a city’s potential and the use of this potential for the benefit of the local society. This is particularly the case for European cities, which are on the one hand cultural centres with strong local identities, and on the other hand, have a cosmopolitan character, not only thanks to their visitors, but also because they are in the mind of people who live far away from them or even people that may never get to visit them’ (Deffner & Liouris, 2005, p.3).


Common-interest community
‘Common-interest communities, also known as common-interest developments or CIDs, include condominiums, coops, retirement communities, vacation timeshares, and other housing developments comprised of individually owned units, in addition to shared facilities and common areas. CIDs usually are created through a set of legal documents drafted by the developer, which may change according to the community's needs. Typically, these types of communities are governed by an association made up of the individual unit owners, most often through an elected board’ (FindLaw, 2019, para.1).


Communicative planning
Communicative planning theory (CPT) advocates ‘resolving controversial goals of different stakeholders through open and facilitative discussions, mediation and fairness-seeking consensus building’ (Hytönen, 2016, p.223).


Deliberative democracy
Deliberation is ‘defined minimally to mean mutual communication that involves weighing and reflecting on preferences, values, and interests regarding matters of common concern. Deliberative democracy incorporates the requirements that deliberation takes place in contexts of equal recognition, respect, reciprocity, and sufficiently equal power for communicative influence to function. These aspirational ideals have inspired a flourishing field, with theoretical and empirical research across many disciplines, and many democratic innovations and practices in many countries and cultures’ (Bächtiger, Dryzek, Mansbridge & Warren, 2018, para.1).


‘Deontology is a theory that suggests actions are good or bad according to a clear set of rules’ (The Ethics Centre, 2016, para.1).


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)



‘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).


False concensus
‘The false-consensus effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the likelihood that others think and act in the same way that they do. For example, the false consensus effect could cause extremists to assume that their views are shared by a large portion of the population, in situations where that’s not the case. Since this bias can influence people’s thoughts and actions in various domains, it is important to understand it’ (Effectiviology, 2020, para.1-3).


Functional rationality
Functional rationality is ‘the rationality that has been central to planning-theory discourse and relates to how stages in the planning process and the deployment of resources lead in a logical, causal way to the desired goal. Functional rationality is often related to positivist knowledge acquisition and the related deductive approach’ (De Roo, 2017, p.36).


Gender equity
‘Gender equity means fairness of treatment for men and women according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities’ (Pipeline, 2018, para.4).


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).


Ideological advocacy
When an advocate planner ‘represents his or her own point of view rather than that of a client’ (Davidoff, Davidoff & Cold, 1970, as cited in Peattie, 1994, p.152).


‘Inequity refers to unfair, avoidable differences arising from poor governance, corruption or cultural exclusion’ (Global Health Europe, 2009, para.1).



Informality refers to ‘the collection of firms, workers, and activities that operate outside the legal and regulatory frameworks or outside the modern economy’ (Loayza, 2016, p.2).


Interculturalism ‘offers the only effective framework for diversity in an increasingly globalised world... Interculturalism also tries to avoid the charge of assimilation, but recognises that heritage and identity are dynamic and that cross-cultural interaction in increasingly globalised and diverse societies is inevitable and desirable. Interculturalism suggests that such change has to be facilitated and supported, and that identity has to be seen as chosen and developmental’ (Cantle, 2012, p.38).


‘Knowledge is constructed through social processes and that the institutions that generate knowledge will not necessarily ensure neutrality’ (Irwin, 1995. as cited in Rydin, 2007, p.52).


Knowledge claims
Knowledge claims are ‘claims to understand certain causal relationships which are open to contestation and recognition’ (Rydin, 2007, p.66).


Ladder of citizen participation
‘Sherry Arnstein, writing in 1969 about citizen involvement in planning processes in the United States, described a “ladder of citizen participation” that showed participation ranging from high to low. The ladder is a guide to seeing who has power when important decisions are being made. It has survived for so long because people continue to confront processes that refuse to consider anything beyond the bottom rungs’ (The Citizen’s Handbook, n.d., para.1, see also Arnstein, 1969).


Learning by doing
‘The acquisition of knowledge or skills through direct experience of carrying out a task’ (IGI Global, 2020, para.2).


‘Legibility is a key factor in visual communications for the built environment. If the messages on signs, displays, screens, interpretive graphics, or other environmental/experiential graphics are not readable, they are not effective’ (Society for Experiential Graphic Design, 2014, para.1).


‘”Multiculturalism” is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles’ (The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2020, para.1).



Neoliberalism is a short-hand term for the economisation of social life. It is distinguished by the decline of the welfare states, deregulation, entrepreneurialism and the advent of the individual initiative as a means of ensuring economic and social well-being (Larner, 2009).


Outline zoning plan
‘A draft OZP prepared under sections 3(1)(a) and 4(1) of the Town Planning Ordinance consists of three components, namely, the outline zoning plan, the notes attached to the plan and an explanatory statement for the plan. The OZPs show the proposed land-uses and major road systems of individual planning scheme areas. Areas covered by such plans are zoned for such uses as residential, commercial, industrial, open space, government, institution or community uses, green belt, conservation areas, comprehensive development areas, village type development, open storage or other specified purposes. Attached to each OZP is a set of Notes setting out the uses which are always permitted (Column 1 uses) in a particular zone and other uses for which the TPB's permission must be sought (Column 2 uses). The explanatory statement is not a part of the OZP but it is an important component of the OZP since it reflects the planning intentions and objectives of the various land-use zonings on the plan’ (Town Planning Board, 2008, para.2-3).


Pareto optimality
‘Pareto efficiency, or Pareto optimality, is an economic state where resources cannot be reallocated to make one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off. Pareto efficiency implies that resources are allocated in the most efficient manner, but does not imply equality or fairness’ (Chappelow, 2019, para.1).


Planning ethics
‘Planning is both a profession and a discipline that has at its foundation questions of how to best develop land, social programs, housing, parks, health services, and other aspects of human settlements’… Planning ethics…‘or moral philosophy, provides a means of analyzing normative ways of responding to planning challenges’ (Hendler, 2015, p.385).


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).


According to (Foucault, 1991), power refers to diffused social relations with varying abilities to shape, change or govern the conduct of others. Hence, it is central to subject formation and truth claims in a given socio-economic and political setting.


‘Pragmatism is the collective name for a family of theories emphasizing the practical consequences of holding a belief as a means to evaluating the truth of that belief. This focus on the practical was born of attempts to evade or escape many of the traditional metaphysical and epistemological puzzles and problems of traditional Western philosophy’ (Barnes, 2005, p.1883).


Preponderance (majority) theory
It means ‘a superiority based on number, weight, power, importance or strength’ (“Preponderance”, 2020, entry 1-2).


Public engagement
‘Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit. (...) Mutual benefit is an important part of our definition as we are keen to emphasise that high quality public engagement benefits all those involved. Benefits might include learning, developing new skills, gaining new insights or ideas, developing better research, raising aspiration, or being inspired’ (National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, 2018, para. 2-3).


Public interest
‘The duty to pursue the public interest is defined by two demands that are made on professionals in public service: (1) to reflect on its many facets disclosed through broad representation and dialogue, and (2) to engage genuinely the duties and values associated with four aspects of public interest: democracy, mutuality, sustainability, and legacy’ (Lewis, 2006, p.694).


Radical planning
‘Radical or insurgent planning is ‘a tradition of planning that is rooted in civil society rather than the state… It is action-oriented and allied with social movements for the right to housing, feminist concerns, socially and ecologically sustainable development, bio-regionalism… and is inspired by the normative theories undergirding these movements’ (Friedmann, 2003, p.9).


Rational comprehensive planning
‘The RCM (Rational Comprehensive Model) for planning owes its origins to Enlightenment epistemology (Sandercock, 1998; Allmendinger, 2002), as it is centred on decisions and principles that are based on reason, logic and scientific facts with little or no emphasis on values and emotions. Due to its tendency towards scientific method and its decision-making process, Faludi has termed it ‘procedural planning theory’. He sees planning as a procedure and declares that “the planning theorist depends on first-hand experience, reflects upon it, and puts it into context” (Faludi, 1978:179). Therefore, the planner learns from experience and can define the correct method or procedure to follow to get the correct result. Meanwhile Sandercock (1998) refers to the rational comprehensive model as ‘technocratic planning’ due to its emphasis on technical expertise and skills and its steadfast belief that technology and social science can be used to solve our problems’ (Planning Tank, 2019b, para.1).


‘(…) rationality is no more than a more sophisticated word for reason: It means "... possessing reason ... being able to exercise reason ... being based on reason" (OED 1971, 2421). Rationality, then, is associated with the deployment of reason (McKerrow 1982, 106): the "... intellectual power or faculty ... employed in adapting thought or action to some end; the guiding principle of the human mind in the process of thinking” (OED 1971, 2431)’ (Alexander, 2000, p.242).


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.


Substantive rationality
Substantive rationality has to do with human beings’ ‘inherent capacity for value-rational action’ (Kalberg, 1980, p.1155).


Tacit knowledge
‘Unwritten, unspoken, and hidden vast storehouse of knowledge held by practically every normal human being, based on his or her emotions, experiences, insights, intuition, observations and internalized information. Tacit knowledge is integral to the entirety of a person's consciousness, is acquired largely through association with other people, and requires joint or shared activities to be imparted from on to another. Like the submerged part of an iceberg it constitutes the bulk of what one knows, and forms the underlying framework that makes explicit knowledge possible. Concept of tacit knowledge was introduced by the Hungarian philosopher-chemist Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) in his 1966 book 'The Tacit Dimension.' Also called informal knowledge’ (“Tacit Knowledge”, 2020, para.1).


Tactical urbanism
‘Tactical Urbanism is all about action. Also known as DIY Urbanism, Planning-by-Doing, Urban Acupuncture, or Urban Prototyping, this approach refers to a city, organizational, and/or citizen-led approach to neighborhood building using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long-term change’ (Tactical Urbanist’s Guide, 2019).


‘Teleology, (from Greek telos, “end,” and logos, “reason”), explanation by reference to some purpose, end, goal, or function’ (“Teleology”, 2016, para.1).


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).


Transactive planning
Transactive planning focuses on mutual learning through dialogic processes or communicative rationality. It is a model developed by John Friedmann when he was advisor to the Chilean government in the early 1970s (Friedmann, 1973).


Truth politics
McGuirk (2001, p.207) argues that ‘power takes effect through the ability to define what is accepted as knowledge, and is accorded the authoritative status of truth. The production of knowledge is therefore an effect of the exercise of power’.


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, 2009, p.61).


Urban evolution
‘The concept of urban evolution was defined to facilitate an understanding of how urban ecosystems change over time and to enable systematic cross-site comparisons across local, regional, and global scales’ (Kaushal, McDowell & Wollheim, 2014, as cited in Kaushal al et., 2015, p.4068).


‘A picture of the “preferred future”; a statement that describes how the future will look if the organization fulfills its mission’ (Wilkinson, 2013, table 2).


Wicked problem
‘In 1973, design theorists Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber introduced the term "wicked problem" in order to draw attention to the complexities and challenges of addressing planning and social policy problems. Unlike the “tame” problems of mathematics and chess, the wicked problems of planning lack clarity in both their aims and solutions. In addition to these challenges of articulation and internal logic, they are subject to real-world constraints that prevent multiple and risk-free attempts at solving’ (Stony Brook University, 2020, para.1).

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