Objective: Explore the connections between objectives and potential activities and between the activities themselves.

The objectives of linkage analysis are: to identify where potential activities have strong positive relationships to objectives and other activities (can create a synergy), or to have strong negative relations (can create a conflict) between objectives and other activities. This allows the team to see which activities should be connected in location and/ or timing.

This can be carried out in 2-3 hours, depending on the complexity.

  1. To explore the connections between potential activities already proposed or developed during brainstorming
  2. To ensure the developing strategy keeps focussed on objectives

The planning team will be responsible to organise, if possible using a neutral moderator. It is good to work on this with participation of the same people involved in other major steps of the process i.e. technical departments, infrastructure organizations, residents’ representatives – according the nature of the potential activities.

The team involved in developing the alternative strategies.

The tool is used together with the mapping of potential activities. This allows location based linkages to be seen.

The preparation of the linkage analysis has the following steps:

Step 1: Locate any of the potential activities identified on a map that covers the city at scale sufficient to be able to locate sites but still cover the whole city.

Step 2:  Using figure 1 below as a guide make a wall chart.

List the main activities that have been identified down the left hand side (row headers), and along the top (column headers).

List the main objectives of the strategic plan – but only on the left hand side.

Blank out the connection boxes where the same items connect.

Step 3:  For each pair of connections in each box mark the relationship as follows:

Positive relationship: where one project helps another (is compatible with) or supports the other: strong: ++, slightly: +

Negative relationship: where one project interferes (is not compatible) with the other: strong: –, low: -.

Neutral relationship: mark with 0

Step 4: For each pair where there is a strong relationship write a short note (see worksheet) indicating how benefits could be obtained or problems minimized. Examples could include integrated spatial planning, coordination of organization, link with taxation, coordinated timing.

Step 5: Rate each of the activities against the objectives.

The result is identified groupings of activities which will help with the formulation of alternative strategies.


  1. Introduces the spatial dimension
  2. Helps the team explore potential synergies
  3. Helps avoid conflicting activities
  4. Keeps a focus on objectives
  5. Relatively quick- takes half a day


  1. An additional step, but one normally worth while

Linkage analysis has a strong relationship with the Goal Achievement Matrix (GAM), but is carried out as part of developing strategies rather than testing and comparing strategies.

This material was developed originally by IHS and DPU. It is included in the draft guidelines for sustainable urban development prepared for the European Commission

Generally accessible documents:

European Commission (2002) Towards sustainable urban development : a strategic approach, (Consultative guidelines for urban development co-operation), Brussels, European Commission.