Planning, also called land use planning, urban planning or city and regional planning, is a dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations. Good planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. Planning serves as a "road map" to help community members envision how and where their community will grow, and will help them find the right balance of new development and essential services, protection of the environment, and innovative change (this definition is derived from the American Planning Association).
Many people's first introduction to land use planning and planners occurs when they need a permit to build a new home or an addition, deck or shed to their existing home. Review and control of urban development (homes, garages, commercial buildings, parking lots, etc.) is primarily regulated through adopted zoning and subdivision codes. This type of planning is called current planning or development review. Planning includes a variety of activities including processing the aforementioned applications, approving land divisions and commercial development, protecting streams, slopes, historic homes and the floodplain, as well as community organizing, and an assortment of long-term visioning activities.