Master Planning - What is it and what it creates

January 28, 2021

Tuesday, January 19, 2020 at 7:00 PM (PST)



Dr. Nadeem ul Haque (VC PIDE)


1. Nadeem Khurshid
2. Dr. Nausheen H. Anwar
3. Dr. Murtaza Haider

All major cities in Pakistan are in the process of reviewing and updating their master plans. Our cities spend resources and time developing masterplans to lock themselves and their cities into a predetermined path of growth and lifestyles. When life does not adjust to these preordained plans for their life, cities and their residents end up in years of strife with encroachments happening
involving lawsuits and law enforcement. Cities try to grow and modernize but planners go to the extent of destroying buildings with court injunctions only because they are a couple of feet taller or longer than allowed by stringent regulations. Yet the push for master-planning continues across Pakistan hoping to keep cities frozen for long periods of time from 15-30 years. Having seen a boom
after the second world war, master plans are increasingly seen as a thing of the past. Reasons for this disillusionment are many:
Points to Ponder
• Master plans are forward-looking, laying the building foundations of a city for the coming twenty years. However, they rely on the present as well as past data to project future demand for infrastructure and public utilities. Little do the planners realize that these
projections are often faulty.
• In Pakistan, master-planning seems to be an inside job between planners and builders who know them. Public participation in the planning process is often perfunctory or non-existent. These plans, therefore, are never owned by the community nor do planners recognize the needs of the people.
• Master plans are often based on unrealistic assumptions about the proposed economic potential of the area as well as the requirements of the population.
• Master plans are static in nature, made at one point in time by a select few which makes them irrelevant fast and it’s the city dwellers who end up having to face all the ills of that planning.
• There is little flexibility built in to evolve the plan and move the city forward. They are often not updated on time, leaving room for vested interests to intervene and change rules in their favor.
• Master plans seem to dictate how markets should develop leaving no room for them to find their own level. It is thanks to master planning that we see a shortage in several areas in our cities.

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