The traditional settlement pattern in most of rural India viewed in terms of a system of settlements consists of a group of semi-independent villages weakly interlinked with one or more service villages.
Because of the lack of spatial organization in private and public investment decision making, these service villages do not form focal points of spatial interaction. The spatial interaction is split between other settlements because service facilities are distributed at several locations. Furthermore for a given area such as a block, the access standards of service villages providing a certain category of services with respect to its dependent settlement may vary widely. The access of a particular group of settlements to the nearest service settlement may be measured by the maximum travel distance from the farthest village in that cluster to the service settlement are by the population weighted average travel distance for the group of settlements in the cluster. Wide variations in both the maximum and the weighted average travel distance may be observed for each service village and its associated cluster of settlement corresponding to a particular category of services. In addition both the number of s and the total population served by each service settlement usually varies significantly.
The objective of spatial planning is to reduce these wide variations in access and population served by service villages and higher level service centres by preparing a location plan for guiding new investments in service facilities such that equity and efficiency criteria are satisfied. The spatial plan also ensures that social and economic infrastructure are not dispersed randomly over space but are concentrating at certain focal points which serve as incompetent points of growth. In other words, the current spatial organization is transformed into a desirable spatial organization which promotes focusing of investments at certain growth centres which are selected in terms of maximizing access to the population at a minimum cost.