Urban Development Structure

2 weeks
Toolbox Themes
  • Socio-spatial inclusionReduce socio-spatial inequalities by promoting the even distribution of basic urban services, quality public spaces, affordable housing, and livelihood opportunities.

Consolidate the new urban development structure of the city, by defining the urban perimeter and identifying the areas of transformation,consolidation and conservation.

  • A map of the new development structure of the city, including the urban area, rural area, urban expansion and the new urban perimeter

  • A map of the areas of transformation, consolidation and conservation


The urban development structure identifies the key features of the Strategic and Spatial Development Plan. This first consists of identifying the urban and rural area, the area for urban expansion, and the urban perimeter. Second, based on the defined structure, transformation, consolidation and conservation areas are identified, which define how the city areas should change in order to guide the future development of the city.

The technical team should start reviewing the outputs from previous activities. The current structure of the city was developed in Field Research (Activity 13) with the T16 Participatory Incremental Mapping tool and the Analysis (Activity 14) and concludes in the Diagnostic (Activity 16). This includes the areas where the urban area of the city has consolidated and/or expanded, the connectivity scheme, the main nodes and landmarks, etc. This information plus the results regarding the challenges, urban expansion projections and city vision should be the base for the formulation of the urban development structure for the future city. 

The first step is  to define the new urban perimeter. The urban management boundary — also called urban edge, urban perimeter, or planning boundary — sets the limits for the future growth of the city to guarantee sustainable development. The boundary is a regulatory tool that legally establishes the planning limits, controls urban sprawl and classifies the land into three types: urban area, urban expansion, and rural area. The names and categories of the areas can vary according to the local planning and regulatory framework or context. 

The new urban perimeter and urban expansion area should consider the urban expansion projections (T19 Urban Expansion Projections) and propose an adequate density for the local context and an adequate proportion of public land (30-45%). The urban perimeter is defined considering existing natural or artificial elements, such as topographic elements, major infrastructures, natural landscape, etc. to ensure its legibility and clarity. 

Once the new urban perimeter is established, the second step is to define strategic areas of the city (T28 Urban Development Structure Guide): 

  • Consolidation: in areas where the infrastructure capacity and the land occupation are balanced and/or there are no predictable or justifiable major changes in the current urban fabric and urban form. Some sectors from the consolidation areas have the potential to be densified.
  • Transformation: in areas where there is a mismatch between the infrastructure capacity and land occupation and/or where substantial changes in the current urban fabric and urban form are predicted. These can be both in urban areas or in expansion areas.
  • Conservation: in areas with cultural or environmental value that need to be protected from interventions and urban sprawl.

This activity is carried out by the technical team but can also be developed as a workshop in collaboration with the advisory committee. Otherwise, the results must be revised and validated by them.

  1. Review the structure of the city developed during the T16 Participatory Incremental Mapping tool and the key findings from Diagnostic (Activity 16).
  2. Review the population growth rate, the urban expansion projections, and the trends of growth defined during the analysis (T19 Urban Expansion Projections).
  3. Draw the new urban perimeter and classify the land into urban area, urban expansion or rural area, or other categories relevant for the city and context (T28 Urban Development Structure Guide).
  4. Review the Vision and its spatialisation (Activity 17 and Activity 19).
  5. Define the areas of transformation, consolidation and conservation.
  6. Consolidate a map that integrates the new sustainable development structure of the city and the strategic areas. This can also be presented in two different maps. The strategic areas will serve as part of the strategic spatial and/or land management plan.
  7. Validate the results with the advisory and steering committee.