#Review 15 – Beyond the plan: the need to build in-house capacity to plan, design and implement urban and territorial strategic spatial plans

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The ISOCARP Review 15 dedicates a section to the planning practice. A valuable contribution to the topic comes from Frank D’hondt, with an article looking at the very inside of the urban planning profession.
Moving from a sincere but not a-critic belief in the potentialities of strategic planning, the author defends the benefits of less sophisticated but community-driven, in-house strategic and action-oriented planning. Following the title “Beyond the Plan”, the article emphasises the development and management of planning capacities rather than the mere planning outcomes. Indeed, during the planning process, a critical challenge is often the choice between in-house and outsourced models and the distribution of the planning capacities. By looking at several and personal experiences during the last 25 years (from Benelux region to Kosovo, Palestine, Afghanistan and Caribbean Small-island States), Frank D’hondt reviews the different planning processes and witnesses the necessity to exploit the potential of in-house/in-sourcing strategic planning.

‘Let there be no misunderstanding: outsourcing is not considered
as a bad practice per se, rather the wholesale outsourcing of a complex planning
process with little or no capacity-transfer to the client’

Therefore, in the author’s view, an interactive and creative approach to strategic planning has also to include ‘in-built’ learning and training on-the-job opportunities, strengthening in-house planning and stewarding insourced/outsourced tasks. Accordingly, the advocated territorial platforms for capacity planning and development could become a valuable support for both governmental and non-governmental institutions to address various capacity needs and aspirations.


Malgorzata Hanzl,
Board Member of ISOCARP, Publications



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