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Procedural Planning

The Oxford English Dictionary 7th Edition, 2007 defines a procedure as an established or official
way of doing something. Further it is defined as as series of actions done in a certain way. With
that said, it is a combination of both defnitions of which procedural planning is concerned. The
Procedural Planning Theory, the bearing on which procedural planning spins was developed
between mid 1960's and 1970's. According to Taylor, there has been a tendency to conflate
systems and rational planning into a borad category of Procedural Planning Theory (PPT)
( Allmendinger, 2002). Notably, there are some broad overlaps between the systems and rational
theories of planning as also posited by Allmendinger (2002). Like the rational theories of planning
the systems approach is concerned with the generation and evaluation of alternatives prior to
making a choice (Faludi, 1987, p.43) in Allmendinger (2002). It is imperative to note thatr while
both theories were seemingly overlapping, they were distinct in critical aspects. Now, according to
Faludi, (1987), rational planning makes the crucial distinction between the formal (means) and
susbstantive (ends) that systems planning fails to do. Hence, the Procedural Planning Theory is
the classifying name given to both systems and rational planning approaches.
The premise for the Procedual Planning Theory has been laid and is thus now safe to deduce
and posit that the PPT has adopted and advanced the views, ideas and intricacies of the systems
abd rational planning theories of planning. If it is that the PPT is a conflate of both approaches;
the definition of procedure denotes that a procedure is a series of actions done in a certain way
then it means that with those embedded principles of both approaches, procecdural planning is
concerned with how things are done and the pattern (s) in which they are done or should be
done. Thus, what lies at the heart of Procedural Planning as the definition declares is how things
are done and how the planning process and the practice of planning itself should be done. A
system is understood as a complex whole, a set of connected things or parts and a group of
objects related to or interacting so as to form a unity. In systems planning, cities, towns, regions
and so on are seen as comprised of different but related components of cities, and towns in the
context of Regional Planning. By extension, if procedural planning shares the principles of the
afforementioned approaches it also means that procedural planning seeks to delineate how
certain procedures or courses of actions should be done or carried out in the planning practice.
In essence, procedural planning deals with how things are done. Since it is a coflate with the
systems approach then it means that the courses of actions which define procedural planning
should follow a certain pattern, order or fashion. Those procedures or "things" to be done in
stages or steps and with rationalism those procedures should follow a logical sequence and ones
which guide the courses of actions taken in procedural planning. Knowledge is not sufficient for
making plans.Rather it must be applied to some purpose, and there must be organizations and
procedures for the coordination and implementation ( Faludi, 1987). Since procedural planning is
concerned with how a particular course of actions are done, here are some of the inter-related
steps which are involoved in procedural planning:
•Identification of needs;
•specification of goals and objectives;
•development of alternative means to attain each goal;
•estimation of the cost of each alternative and
•selection of the most promising alternative (s) (Cayer and Weshcler, 1988).

Normative Planning

The normative theory of planning stipulates how the world ought to be and provides ideas about
how to achieve this state (Allmendinger, 2002). Traditionally these could be regarded as theories
of planning and could, for example, include Marxist, New Right, and communicative or
collaborative planning approaches ( Allmendinger, 2002)."... Normative theory is concerned with
how planners ought to proceed rationally. Behavioural approaches focus more on the limitations
which they are up against in trying to fulfill their programme or rational action." (Faludi, 1983, p.4)
(Faludi, 1986). "British post war planning was driven by a disticnt set of values which, when
generalised, amounted to a normative theory of what costituted the ideal physical environment
which it should be the task of town planning to try to bring about" (Taylor,1998 p.20). He went
further to argue that what drove British post war planning, were more particular to that country, to
its time and place.So, from Taylor's arguments we should appreciate that normative planning is
indeed relative. This is to say that what is considered a norm in one culture, time, and geogrpahic
space differs as all cultural, regional and national barriers are transcended or are explored. The
"what ought to be" factor is what intimately lies at the core of normative planning.By use of
analogy, it is the norm that when it rains, people busstle and shuffle to find shelter, or perhaps to
get an umbrella or a rain cloak or whatever means necessary to avoid be unduely wet. In addition
when it rains the pace of activities are drammatically reduced. There are no two ways about this
analogy as it is inherent or is the natural course or order of actions which does not beg the
question per se as the need arose. Now, in a similar light, normative planning speaks to how
planners ought to or rather it is concerned with how they are obligated to proceed rationally as
endorsed by Faludi. Since normative planning provides ideas of how to achieve a particular state
posited by Allmendinger, then obviously normative planning speaks to the element of procedural
planning. Saying that one ought to, or a course of actions ought to be done, normative planning
declaratively denotes that the planner must or has to go about carrying out the practice of
planning a presecribed way as is contained. By theory per se if fifteen steps are involved in the
process for the construction and establishment of a housing complex then the planner must follow
all steps not lacking any, neither in part or portions and of course bearing in mind the context and
purpose for and in which the planner plans.

Substantive Planning
"The present trend in planning theory is a move towards a concern with procedure rather than
with susbstance. This might either indicate a sign of maturity for the science or discipline of
planning, or that the failure of the planning theorists to provide any solutions to society's problems
has led them to elect the easy wayo out, namely to deal with abstractions only" (Camhis, 1979).
Susbstantive Planning is concerned with the subject matter of planning or the object of planning
(Compton, Hens & Nath, 1998). In addition, substantive planning deals with the theoretical
aspects of planning.Moreover, it is pertinent to note that substantive planning operates from the
basis of it being a theory in planning as against theories of planning, making specific mention to
procedural planning and procedural planning theory.It is within this type of planning that clear
distinctions between" 'theories of planning' and 'theory in planning' , in other words, between
theories of the planning process-procedural theories-and theories concerning phenomena with
which planning is concerned" (Hightower, 1969:326) ( Camhis, 1979 p1). It was out of that need
to distinguish between the phenomena that a relationship between philosophy and science was
conceived, that is between 'doing science' and discussing how science is done or how scientists
ought to proceed. Substantive planning hence borrows concepts or theoretical formulations
mainly from the natural sciences. So, what is pivotal in substantive planning is that it is highly
theoretical in nature and scope as it mirrors and strives to identify with the image of science in
carrying out certain procedures.


It is thus safe to conclude that procedural, substantive and normative planning are critical in the
practice of Regional Planning. There principles encompass how procedures are done in the
science of planning and how planners ought to proceed rationally through a course (s) of actions.
Intricate to


Allmendinger P.,. (2002) Planning Theory. PALGRAVE New York

Camhis M., (1979) Planning Theory and Philosophy. Taylor& Francis. New York
Cayer N. J., & Weschler L. F., (1988) Public Administration: Social Change and Adaptive
Management. St. Martin Press

Compton P., Hens L., & Nath B., (1998) Environmental Manaagement in Practice: Instruments for
Environmental Management. London:Routledge.

Faludi A., (1986), Critical Rationalism and Planning Methodology, Pion Limited,
London:Brondesbary Park.

Taylor N. (1998) Urban Planning Theory since 1945. SAGE Publications Ltd