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What is the Difference Between Town Planning and Urban Design Services?

What is the Difference Between Town Plan

Though the two are not the same, town planning and urban design complement each other. These two services are what make cities awesome. Not only do these two ensure that a city is mesmerising to look at and drive around in, that aesthetic is also balanced with function. Both town planning and urban design make ease of living and working their primary goal. The success of both results in satisfied and more productive citizens.  


Town planning and urban design in Brisbane is exceptional, thanks to the coordination between Brisbane’s town planning firms, urban design firms, and local governments. If you are curious about the difference between the two, this article will enlighten you on that.  

When the task calls for the design of an entire city or town, town planning services is the answer


Town planning is essentially a data-oriented endeavour. Town planners (also called urban planners, hence the confusion) plan or consult on a plan for a whole public space. They think about what an entire community should look like. Using data they collect, they figure out where to best allocate zones for residences, central business districts or smaller commercial parks, malls and recreational centres, industrial facilities like factories or warehouses, public parks, and more.  

Town planners work closely with governments as well as the community 

Town planners conduct thorough research on the community. Their research ranges from measuring land area (on which they might work with consulting land surveyors) to interviewing residents on what their sentiments are about the community and how they want to see it improve. They also try and determine project feasibility, including in the aspect of budget. This job involves a rich mix of knowledge in economics, sociology, public management or governance, law, and finance.  

More than that, town planners are deeply involved in the policy-making process in a city 

A great example of this is travel or mobility infrastructure. Everything should be coordinated, and they figure out how to achieve that coordination by studying maps, population data, and other relevant data. For example, train or tram routes, highways, and inner city roads should be designed with an average city resident’s maximum ease of mobility in mind. Town planners also advise on strict building codes and building standards to ensure that no property owner steps on the rights of those around them and the pedestrians passing their buildings.  

All in all, town planners think large scale 

They answer the question: how can all elements in the city come together to create harmony? Once they have sufficient recommendations for that, they then work with governments, consulting land surveyors, developers, and other important organisations to develop those specific structures. That is then where urban designers come in.  

When the task calls for the design of specific features within the city, that would entail urban design services  

If town planners are concerned with the whole public space, urban designers are concerned with one specific feature at a time: public parks, transportation, landscapes, streetscapes, plazas, and other public facilities. If town planning is leaning more on the data-driven side, urban design tips over to the creative side.  

Urban designers are tasked to design and build specific spaces or structures 

Urban designers are interested in making sure that a resident or tourist’s experience with a space is a positive one. An urban designer’s work always showcases both aesthetic and function, and their work also uses the word “modern” operatively – modern as in adapted to the present-day culture’s needs and wants, and not just limited to modern-looking structures. How this is carried out exactly depends on the urban designer’s unique creative touch, which can range from minimalist and sleek to vibrant and fun.  

Urban designers are also interested in sustainability 

Sustainability is at the heart of urban design in Brisbane. Not only should structures and systems themselves last years and years; they should also be designed with the environment in mind. This is why most modern cities have struck a good balance between development and environmental preservation – you might see trees, plants, parks, bike lanes, and other signs of sustainability in a city that has enlisted the help of the most talented and environment-oriented urban design firms.   

Urban designers focus on the project at hand 

Apart from designing structures, some of their responsibilities include construction and project management. They work closely with contractors and project managers from project inception up to opening day. They ensure that every aspect in the construction process is carried out according to plan and within standards. Working with the project manager, they along with everyone else in the project make sure that the project stays on-calendar and on-budget.  

Bringing it all together  

In order for a town plan to be successful, both town planners and urban designers have to know the community’s wants and needs, what their culture is, what tourism there looks like, how their local economy operates, and more. They also need a clear picture of what the identity of the town would be: would it be a family-friendly city? A university town? A beachside haven for tourists and locals alike? All these get factored into the research and plans the town planners submit and later the project plans that urban designers come up with. 


Brisbane’s urban design and town planning is what has made it one of the most – if not the most – livable city in Australia. Town planners and urban designers coordinate in the sense that the urban designer’s work should be well within the standards and recommendations produced by the town planners. A town planner prepares the soil while an urban designer plants the seeds. 


Building an entire city is essentially a collaborative process, and this collaboration does not only happen among organisations or governments. Citizens are also deeply involved in the process, as the results of these projects serve the interests of the public first and foremost.


Work with experts in town planning services, JDA Consultants 

The team over at JDA Consultants are expert town planners, urban designers, and consulting surveyors in Queensland. We are ready to work with you as you turn your vision into a reality. Get in touch with us today. You can reach us at (07) 3252-3777 or email  

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