Comprehensive planning is something that has emerged as a new layer of land use regulation in the U.S., starting, as far as I recall, in Oregon in the 1970's - a long enough time to start to evaluate how it works. Washington State has had it mandated since 1990 - I'm now in Colorado, where it appears to just be getting started.
Curiously, the rural Colorado County where I am now located has just dropped the planning product of a two year process with over 150 public meetings.
I'm not an expert per se, save for my own anecdotal experience. The blog entry immediately preceding (below) this one does address these questions, and, in context, addresses my own personal story.
One of the biggest benefits of comprehensive planning should be the financial control of the costs associated with growth, as well as bringing the decision making processes which decides which properties benefit out of the metaphorical cigar filled back room.
But the sad fact is that in practice, at least in Washington State, it is a FAILURE. The current Governor, Christine Gregoire, the former State Attorney General and head of the State Department of Ecology during the implementation of environmental land use regulations has created a political machine where only her political patrons and legal colleagues are able to engage in very profitable development activities. Tragically one of the strongest weapons in her toolbox are previously abused minorities that are more than happy to turn the cycle of abuse where ever Governor Gregoire and her career cohorts point their defamatory, and corrupt, finger.
In my opinion, this FAILURE, is symptomatic of much of the current crisis we see in America today. La Plata County here in Colorado might well have been right to suspend their planning activities. Getting it right is essential, and this County does have the potential to create a model of success for the rest of the Nation.