Urban planning seeks to unite all elements of the (both natural and built) environment to promote the liveability and sustainability of an urban area. It encompasses the physical environment (land, air, water) and the built environment (streets, buildings, houses, parks) of an urban area as well as its social and economic functions.

Urban planning is typically a part of an overall city plan which provides mission and vision statements that inform the direction in which urban development should proceed.

Urban planning projects must also be informed by research and input from all stakeholders affected by their planning decisions, including citizens, landowners and local government bodies. Urban planners need to reconcile competing goals to produce the best outcome from an environmental, social and cost perspective. Consultation with local government is particularly important since they control the existing land, roads, buildings and other communal areas that are subject to the project.