Creating and Implementing Successful Neighborhood Plans

Land Deveopment Training
February 4, 2013 — 1,687 views  

A neighborhood may be defined as the most basic level of social co-existence in a municipality or city. Neighborhood planning can be defined as the act of involving citizens in a collaborative process to address prevailing social situations and to determine future objectives. Neighborhood planning helps in bringing together community organizations, related city departments, and social service providers so that concerted efforts may be taken towards the betterment of a neighborhood. A neighborhood plan would thus ensure availability of better services and conditions at the neighborhood level.

Collaborative Neighborhood Planning – Planning with a difference

Collaborative neighborhood planning involves local citizens and individuals in the process of formulating a plan for economic and social development. A collaborative neighborhood plan is characterized by the involvement of citizens all through the planning process. Conventional planning approaches exclude local citizens when drawing up the plan and hence lack the necessary attributes of a meaningful economic and social development plan. Noteworthy is the fact that the very objective of such a plan is to address issues faced by local citizens. Hence, involving the citizens when formulating a neighborhood plan helps streamline the impact such a plan would have on citizens at a personal level and address relevant issues in the best possible manner. Also, it would help achieve a balance of power and increase the influence of citizens on the local government.

Establishing Boundaries to Connect the Residents

It is very important to establish well-recognized neighborhood boundaries. The boundaries should be such that they bring together physically and socially related citizens. This helps in designing a uniform plan which is capable of addressing the concerns of the target citizen group. A possible deterrent to establishing well-defined boundaries is the possibility of some neighborhoods having better structure and organization than the other neighborhoods. Such neighborhoods could be mustering extra resources that other neighborhoods may need. In such situations, planners must necessarily ensure that all neighborhoods are positioned equally. The size of a neighborhood is also an issue worth pondering. Studies have revealed that establishing a system of small natural neighborhoods in a participative environment may better address the above issues.

Collaborative Neighborhood Planning – An action plan

A well-defined methodology must be employed in formulating a collaborative neighborhood plan. Studies have been able to determine several attributes that an effective neighborhood plan must possess. These can be summarized under the following heads:

  • General housekeeping - This involves the process of creating an effective plan document and majorly impacts the overall implementation.
  • Planning process validation - This involves turning the plan into a real-time reference document that ratifies the process preceded by the plan.
  • Neighborhood establishment - Involves identifying the correct extents of a target neighborhood.
  • Functional elements - These are the basic building blocks of each aspect of the neighborhood plan.
  • Implementation framework - Elements of the neighborhood plan which are inclined towards action and implementation.

Financial and other Considerations

It may be said that the entire neighborhood planning process may be dependent on seven considerations. These may be summarized as under:

  • Build community - Identify the community’s needs and influences, involve all walks of the society, and seek feedback to improve.
  • Cement leadership - Identify a leader to oversee the planning efforts and allot responsibilities for each goal.
  • Plan to implement - Have clarity on the goals earmarked. Set long-term and short-term goals, and use short-term goals to advance in the long term. Ensure flexibility to capture opportunities and learn from other communities.
  • Utilize available tools and resources - Make use of visual aids to map the neighborhood’s needs and gather a set of effective practices.
  • Financial realism - Understand the costs involved and consider the available financial resources. Bring in developers and be deft in filling financial gaps.
  • Communicate the plan efficiently - Make people aware of neighborhood planning. Be realistic in setting goals and deliver good results.
  • Enhance the neighborhood social capital - Understand the city’s political and social structure. Involve civic officials and important decision makers in the planning process.

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