What is an Urban Planner?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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An urban planner combines skills in land planning, along with transportation planning, to design a community or region that is easy to live in and attractive to look at. Urban planners are typically trained as engineers or architects. They must also have an understanding of many other fields, including the environment, transportation and psychology. Studies have shown that crime, happiness and many other factors are, in a large part, determined by the surroundings someone lives in. Effective urban planning creates a comfortable and safe environment that people will enjoy.

Some urban planners design a community from the ground up, while others work in an already populated area to improve the design. When an urban planner works in an area that has fallen into disrepair, in an attempt to improve living conditions, it is called urban renewal. Many urban planners are becoming more involved in sustainable planning. The goal of sustainable planning is to create communities that use fewer natural resources and protect the ecosystem of the area.

Aesthetics are always a concern for urban planners. There are a variety of problems associated with large urban areas that planners try to minimize. They include such things as the urban canyon effect. This is what happens in cities with many high rise buildings. These buildings prevent sunlight from penetrating the concrete below, giving an unnatural shadow on the area at all times.


Another problem that must be dealt with in urban areas is noise. Constant exposure to noise is physically and emotionally draining. Design issues such as adding trees, and other types of green space, can help absorb noise, as can reducing the number of cars on the street.

Reducing traffic is one of the key components of an urban planner’s job. Reduced traffic means reduced noise and air pollution. An efficient public transportation system is one of the key design features of a well planned community.

An urban planner must also take into consideration what types of emergencies may strike an area, and how they will be dealt with. Clearly marked, and well designed, evacuation routes out of the city are important, as are properly designed levees, retaining walls or other man-made safety features. When designing these features, it is vital that the urban planner understand the number of people who may need evacuated or sheltered, and plan accordingly.


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