In Malawi, physical planning came with the British colonialists who prepared the first street plan for Blantyre.  The origin of the Department is a Town Planning Section that was established in the then Public Works Department in 1962.  In 1968 a Physical Planning Division was established in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to deal with rural development matters.  In 1971, the Physical Planning Division of OPC was amalgamated with the Town Planning Section of Ministry of Works and Supplies to become the Department of Town and Country Planning under OPC.

Through a functional review in 1986 the Department became Department of Housing and Physical Planning having three divisions of Housing, Town Planning and Country Planning.  It later became part of Ministry of Physical Planning and Surveys while Housing become a ministry on its own.  Further functional review by Government created the Ministry of Lands, Housing, Physical Planning and Surveys which comprised departments of Lands and valuation, Surveys, Physical Planning, Housing and Buildings.

Sustainable use and management of land and development for all

To facilitate the provisio of physical planning services to the general public at all levels in an effective and efficient manner.

The department derives its Mandate from the Physical Planning Act

Strategic outcome
Sustainable use of land and management of urban and rural development and land-based resources attained.
Strategic Objective
Integrate physical planning aspects into national economic growth and development planning strategies and programmes in order to promote high quality, safe, co-ordinated and balanced distribution of social and economic development that benefits all sectors of the Malawi economy.

The current purpose for the department is “to provide physical planning services”.

To achieve orderly, coordinated, efficient and environmentally sound socio-economic development and securing proper use and development of urban and rural land and land based resources.

The objectives of the department include the following:
  • Formulating, reviewing and implementing an equitable national spatial land use and management policy and strategies.By undertaking social – economical surveys and studies to see how best these can assist in land use planning.By studying the current land use, planning trends and seeing how best the current challenges and trends can be improved.
  • Preparing and reviewing national, district and local (urban and rural) physical development plans. By looking / identifying the current demands for national, district and local physical development plans as a basis of knowing the number of developments required to be planned.
  • Provide urban and rural development control regulations, standards and guidance.By conducting stakeholders’ workshops to ensure that required standards and regulations are accepted by all.
  • Monitoring and enforcing  the implementation of national, district and local physical development plans.By conducting site or field verification to check compliance of developments based on approved plans.By sensitizing people to understand the existence of plans, its importance and the need for compliance.
The department is responsible for;
  • Formulating national physical development policies, strategies, standards and guidelines
  • Preparing and reviewing the national and regional physical development plans; and also approving district and local physical development plans
  • Initiating, undertaking or directing studies and research into matters concerning physical planning from time to time.
  • Ensuring that local government authorities are properly executing and enforcing preservation orders.
  • Supervising implementation of national, district and local physical developments plans and development standards, guidelines and regulations.
  • Providing advisory services to the Commissioner for Lands and Local Government Authorities on the most appropriate use of land.
Sections Under the Department of Physical Planning


The division is responsible for the preparation of national and regional physical planning development plans and coordinate preparations of local plans in local planning authorities.

The purpose of the division is “to provide national and regional physical development planning services”

To achieve the above purpose the division performs the following functions

  • The provision of land use planning services
  • The provision of technical drawing services


The division will be responsible for enforcing development regulations, planning standards, promulgating planning rules and regulations and advising stakeholders on matters of physical planning and development.

The purpose for the division is “to manage physical developments”

The division performs the following functions:
  • The development control and enforcement
  • The provision of information and outreach services