EVALUATION OF PLANNING ALTERNATIVES
Planning alternatives as solutions to problems
Every planning assignment can be phrased as "planning problems": "What is the best site for a new airport?"; "How can we reduce violence in schools?"; "How can we raise the standard of living of the population in the region?" and so on.
The planners' responsibility is to find "the best" solution for the problem, and to submit it to the verdict of decision takers.
How can we know what is "the best solution'? It is ample recognized that a certain problem can be approached from different angles, and a lot of possible –alternative- solutions could each be promising.
Only by investigating the merits of every possible alternative may we be confident of not having overlooked the preferred of all plans.
The formulation and evaluation of alternatives is well established in Urban Planning, Land Use Planning and connected subjects; lamentably, it is poorly applied in Social
Planning, where it seems that each proponent is interested in pushing his own solution
and in too many cases no alternatives are required nor evaluated.
Generation of alternatives
The alternatives are formulated according to the nature of the planning problem: Different locations for the airport; different approaches to violence reduction; different development strategies.
Whatever the planning problem, a countless number of possible options exist. The number of options considered should be sufficient to cover distinguishing characteristics between feasible alternatives
Choosing the best alternatives
We are never able to assess all the possibilities formally and comprehensively, nor to design all of them in the detail required for implementation within the limitations of time and other resources made available.
Attention should be focused more on likely "winners" than on alternatives generally.
Planners must adopt methods which allow for short-cuts in the selection of a set of solutions which,...