Planning Support Unit: An Initiative to Support City Development Planning in the State of Madhya Pradesh, India
Planning for irregular 'fragmented' cities of the developing world is a complex task, and approaches of traditional master planning and land use planning techniques have consistently failed to make a mark. The Urban Administration and Development Department of Madhya Pradesh (UADD) has initiated a major exercise to prepare City Development Plans for 96 towns in Madhya Pradesh, building on the previous experience of city development planning under JNNURM. At the same time, the Madhya Pradesh Urban Services for the Poor Project, supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), is supporting ten additional CDPs in Gwalior and other municipal corporations to formulate comprehensive plans that would further the pro-poor and inclusive development in the State, taking planning beyond the Master Planning era. In order to build the capacity of UADD and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to strengthen urban planning and prepare high-quality City Development Plans and Urban Investment Plans, there is an urgent need to establish a Planning Support Unit at the UADD level. This unit should consist of technically qualified planners who can support cities to plan, guide and oversee the City Development Plan preparation, with financial support from Cities Alliance.
The objectives of the Planning Support Unit are to: 1) Build the capacity of Urban Local Bodies (ULB) through training in developing processes and methodologies to prepare City Development Plans, provide quality control of the content of City Development Plan documents, and to synchronise them with the wider regional, state and national urban development agenda. 2) Train Urban Local Bodies in ensuring that the City Development Plans, once prepared, are used in letter and spirit to guide development activities with constant feedback, backed by support from the Unit to relevant authorities. 3) Strengthen the knowledge base of participating Urban Local Bodies and the state by developing demand-led knowledge products, drawing on the expertise and international experiences of the Cities Alliance Secretariat, its members and other global players. 4) Support the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the Urban Administration and Development Department to strengthen policy and implementation frameworks for urban planning in the state by reviewing and updating policy initiatives (e.g. urban slum policy) and ensuring emerging priorities are adequately incorporated into existing planning frameworks, such as the introduction of sub-plans for urban economic development, transport, environment, heritage and conservation, for example. The Planning Support Unit is proposed as part of the existing institutional set-up of the Directorate of Urban Administration and will be co-located in the UADD Project Management Centre along with the Madhya Pradesh Urban Services for Poor project. The unit's success will lie in its ability to bring fresh approaches to urban planning.
The Planning Support Unit is proposed as a small unit of three core professionals and associated support staff with provisions for short-term inputs from experts in various relevant fields of knowledge and expertise. The small core team is expected to demonstrate knowledge and exposure of a multidisciplinary mature with a good mix of professional and academic competencies. A suggested sequence of activities is outlined below: 1) Implementation of Planning Support Unit support activities; preparation of workplan, monitoring of City Development Plan inputs and outputs, preparation of case studies and results reporting; 2) Staffing of core functions -- advertising the posts according to defined job descriptions set out in the proposal, interviewing and selection; 3) Setting up office -- hiring support staff, office space, telecommunications, etc.; 4) Induction of core staff and Urban Local Bodies -- meetings with relevant officials, visits to participating Urban Local Bodies and elsewhere; 5) Orientation of Urban Local Bodies, City Development Plan consultants and other stakeholders on the Plans with support from Cities Alliance, through a series of workshops and knowledge-sharing activities; 6) Preparation of initial reports, workshops and meetings to identify methodologies for further action, creation of a panel of national experts on various subjects of relevance and other activities as deemed necessary; 7) Completion and Exit: Final report, evaluation and lessons from the exercise.
Expected Impacts and Results
The overall aim of the Planning Support Unit remains: “To make the management of the city (urban centres of Madhya Pradesh) and the political consensus underlying policy increasingly better informed, more precisely targeted and more effective”. Advantages provided by the Unit include: 1) Providing capacity building and training to help Urban Local Bodies add value to the overall quality and consistency of City Development Plan preparation; 2) Contributing towards the capacity development of Urban Local Bodies, relevant agencies and development authorities; 3) Supporting interaction between Urban Administration and Development Department of Madhya Pradesh, the State Government, Urban Local Bodies and technical consultants; 4) Acting as a state-level macro planning input, coordinating the various city development strategies for regions and city catchments of multiple tiers of cities, and optimising them for the overall development of the State; 5) Acting as a knowledge management centre, using the Cities Alliance network to access relevant knowledge and experiences from across the globe, identifying best practices from the nationwide process, and disseminating these best practices to relevant authorities and agencies. It will also promote research and coordination with International Universities and Professional Networks by developing networks with and contributing to research societies, centres of relevant nature in Universities, and international organisations, etc.; 6) Creating further avenues of positive inclusive growth for urban Madhya Pradesh by acting as the focal point (and possibly marketing mascot) of the unique planning exercise, attracting much-needed ideas, investments and contributions from across the globe.