How to build a City Development Strategy?

How to build a City Development Strategy?

The process of elaboration of a City Development Strategy depends entirely on the context and initiative of each city.

Replicating exactly what other cities did before would lead to a strategy not adapted to the local context and needs. However, a common methodology can be used for all cities when planning their future strategically. What follows is a methodology for urban strategic planning elaborated by MedCities, in cooperation with other international partners, thanks to the experience and expertise acquired over time. For further information, please access our toolbox.

  1. Organization and start up

The objective of this first phase is to identify the municipal service that will be in charge of leading the executive production of materials, selecting and training the members of the Technical team, consider if external assistance is needed and holding a public information meeting to present the process and its decision-making bodies. These decision-making bodies shall be constituted in this first phase. It is also important to define the scope that will be given to citizens' participation.

  1. Drawing up of the Descriptive Memory (Pre-diagnosis)

It is an initial work carried out by the technical local team through a participative process. Its aim is to gather and synthesize the information available about the city (statistical data and secondary sources). It aims at defining a "state of the art" of the city and identifies the key issues that will be developed in the Diagnosis.

  1. Drawing up the Strategic Diagnosis

It is a transversal vision of the critical issues and involves elaborating new specific approaches on the main aspects of the issues treated. Working groups integrated by representatives of significant stakeholders are ideally created in order to enrich the discussion. This phase is concluded with a document defining the current situation of the key issues, its territorialized impact, a definition of trends and a SWOT analysis with regards to each critical issue. A public information meeting with these conclusions and to identify the next steps to be taken is also envisaged.

  1. Strategic Framework

It consists of a general objective ("City Vision") and the strategic lines ("City Mission"). The General Objective is the purpose of the strategy. It is an easily understandable description of the future forecast which defines the unique nature of the city. The strategic lines organize the actions and projects of the Plan into coherent groups. The programs, policies, plans, projects and actions undertaken should allow the city's vision and mission to be attained.

  1. Action Plan

It includes a wide range of projects that allow achieving the objectives set in the Strategic Framework. These projects can be divided into strategic, complementary and instrumental projects. Drawing the Action Plan requires identifying projects in progress or planned and selecting those considered positive for the evolution of the city. It implies also including a clear identification of the people in charge of each project, and analysis of cost and feasibility and the expected results.

  1. Monitoring and Evaluation System

This system allows the assessment of the projects in progress and the overall implementation of the strategy. It is essential that the Strategy moves forward from a planning document to a living dynamic process of transformation of the city. Objective evaluation is needed in order to determine whether this process is being carried out successfully.