Marginalizing Themselves: Many Plans But No Planning


  • T. J. Nnkya


There is increasing disatisfaction with the effectiveness of planning and planner‟s contribution in the management of change in the built environment resulting from the rapid urbanization taking place in the developing countries. This is primarily because change of the urban places is taking place increasingly unguided and unregulated, with conspicous impacts on the lives of the poor in particular. The World Urban Forum 3 that was held in Vancouver in June 2006, before concluding on, inter alia, the need for reinventing planning so as to make it effective, provided opportunity to policy makers, civil societies, planners, academics and researchers to exchange experiences on planning practice, among others. In a network event to discuss planning practice, some participants were of the view that planning was being marginalized. Drawing on a case of planning practice in Tanzania, my position was, and is different that planners were marginalizing themselves while planning proceeded championed by other professionals who were capable of working with, and facilitating negotiations among stakeholders to reach agreements on how to address issues of common concern. Through a case of regularizing an existing informal settlement, this paper takes a reader through the case to support this position. The case demonstrates that planners are sometimes „professionally blind‟ of opportunities to manage change with stakeholders, opportunities which if recognized and properly utilized, would enhance effectiveness of planning in addressing thorny urban development issues. Other professionals have, within limits of their profession and mandate to act, facilitated stakeholders to successfully negotiate aggreements on how to reshape their built environment. However, to justify their existence, planners have, without communicating and collaborating with stakeholders, produced plans disregarding the negotiated agreements. Though approved as framework for guiding spatial change, planners‟ plans have had no influence on the built environment. It is argued that, the inability of planners to collaborate and communicate with stakeholders, facilitate negotiations among them and coordinate stakeholders‟ development initiatives underpin the ineffectiveness of planning and hence the existence of many plans but no planning. The fact that sometimes, as it is demonstrated in this case, other professionals are capable of doing what planners should do, challenges and threatens the existence of professional planners.They are marginalizing themselves as spectators at their own detriment, but more serious at the expense of the quality of the urban places.

Keywords: planning practice, planner, landholder,stakeholder, regularization, informal settlement



How to Cite

Nnkya, T. J. (2018). Marginalizing Themselves: Many Plans But No Planning. The Journal of Building and Land Development, 15(1 & 2), 58-75. Retrieved from