Planning process refers to the course of action, the operational procedure, or the logical, step by step approach required to be followed in planning for development. The process is identical at each level of planning and must operate on a common data bank. Again, the process represents the application of scientific method in the analysis of human behavior and societal problems, in the context of social, economic, spatial and political structures. The planning process cannot endure without the objective interaction between theory and practice.
Practice is the application of theory and method to solve real life problems. Thus practice must be continuously updated by the induction of theories and methods which it „tests? in practical situations and refines by feedback to the theorists and methodologists. A theory, on the other hand, is a statement of behaviour, conceived in the form of a model, that is, a system of relationships that attempts to replicate real life situations.
The planning process is operat
ionalised on the basis of the problem-solving model. Different people have suggested different forms of the process; however, they all have the same characteristics. According to Hills and Conyers (1984), the characteristics of a real planning process include the following: i. It is problem solving, dealing with the identification and solution of societal problems. ii. It is multi-objective, seeking to address itself to many objectives at the same time when a problem is being solved e.g. the harnessing of Hydro Electrical Power from the Volta River has led to the development of water transportation, fishing, and irrigation schemes. iii. It is cyclical, implying a continuous process as it attempts to adjust itself to the changing norms, behavior and attributes of society. iv. It is evolutionary, developing by natural processes from rudimentary to more highly organized state in terms of methods and tools of analysis. In another perspective, the planning process evolves from the aspirations of society and must therefore be society-based. v. It is interdisciplinary, involving the integration of chartered planners, sectoral specialists (e.g. economists, geographers, and sociologists), institutionalized societies (e.g. pressure groups such as TUC, Chamber of Commerce, etc), those concerned with decision-making (e.g. the government, administrators, etc) and other beneficiaries.