"Urban coherence," as a multi-faceted urban phenomenon that caters for the improved long-term well-being and quality of life for an urban community, can be incorporated as goals to be aimed for in the process of urban planning. In the Malaysian context, urban and regional planning, or town and country planning, is a process that requires the formulation of a series of development plans, which function as a comprehensive and integrated framework for urban development and growth at the national, state and local levels. Although the plans are mainly physical in nature, containing proposals for the future development and use of land, they have to take into account economic and social issues, and provide for economic, social, cultural and political stability and well-being as their objectives and strategies. At the national level, the Town and Country Planning Act of the country requires the preparation of a National Physical Plan, which is a written statement formulating strategic policies for the purpose of determining the general directions and trends of the physical development in the country. The Structure Plan of each state formulates the policy and general proposals of the state government in respect of the development and use of land in the state, in line with the national physical plan, including measures for the improvement of the socio-economic well-being of the people and the promotion of economic growth of the state. The Local Plans, prepared by the local authorities for their respective areas, work out in detail the national and state plans, in terms of the use and development of land in the their areas. In the formulation of all these plans the law requires that comprehensive surveys and studies to be carried out examining the matters that may be expected to affect the urban growth and development of the area. Hence, in the process of urban planning in Malaysia, a deep and comprehensive understanding of the urban driving forces, their causes and their effect on various stake-holders, is essential. This paper also looks into how the various assets of urban coherence, social cohesion, community well-being, political stability, cultural integrity and dynamics of growth, can be incorporated as tangible and intangible, immediate and long-term, national, state and local level goals in the normal urban planning process in Malaysia.
Tan Thean Siew
Town Planning Consultant