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In this chapter, human organisation of the built and natural environment is outlined, from ancient times up until the present day. Approaches to planning from around the world are used to aid understanding of where we are today, and help to highlight changes in the urban form of towns and cities in the UK. The main focus then turns to planning in the ‘modern’ post-1947 era up to the present day, highlighting the principal influences and issues. Planning in the ‘public interest’ is considered in the context of changing market forces and political direction. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the tensions inherent within the planning system currently operating in the UK.

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This chapter explores the delivery of projects. The focus is on both governance and funding, together with a consideration of the barriers to implementation and theory associated with this. From a governance perspective, approaches such as Urban Development Corporations and Urban Regeneration Companies are introduced, together with smaller scale models such as Enterprise Zones and Business Improvement Districts. Finance is briefly discussed via, for example, Tax Increment Financing.

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The governance of planning in the UK is examined in this chapter. The hierarchy of spatial scales at which planning operates, from the international and national tiers down to district and neighbourhood level, is set out as a basis for understanding how planning decisions are made. We summarise the agencies of planning, their role in planning decision making and the dimensions of integration between parties, alongside an exploration of changes in approach to public involvement in the process. The crucial role of negotiation is highlighted, with a particular focus on the role of the planner in this process.

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This chapter is concerned with the decision-making space: how are decisions made? Through what process? And based on what legal construct? We explore how policy is used in decision making, as well as reviewing the different ways in which applications and decisions are made and managed. The chapter looks at the different forms of decision making, including permitted development, prior approval and permission in principle, as well as full, outline and reserve matters approaches. We also look at the wider aspects of practice, including conditions, planning gain, appeals and enforcement.

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This chapter introduces the role of plans and policy in the making and management of place and space. It refers to some of the key components of a typical plan, and outlines some key plan-making principles, such as the need for an effective evidence base and proactive community and stakeholder involvement. The chapter introduces the concept of the UK’s plan-led system and the role of the statutory development plan. It introduces key policy goals and outlines some of the plan-making activities that planners need to engage with. It identifies the need for plans to be sustainable, and outlines how planners seek to ensure different social economic and environmental goals are being met.

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The fully updated Short Guide to Town and Country Planning provides an concise introductory overview of the practice of planning for those with little or no prior knowledge. This second edition considers who planners are and what they do, showing how planning - as an art, science and system - has evolved as an organised action of the state.

The book discusses the planning system, processes, legal constructs and approaches, taking into account the recent regulatory changes within the UK nations. Restructured to improve readability, it explores the interactions of government and society with the planning system, and the relationship between urban planning, the environment, and placemaking. It encourages the reader to adopt a reflective and inquisitive outlook, and features:

• case study boxes;

• further reading and resources;

• guidance on the recent policy and system updates, including those through devolution.

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This opening chapter provides an overview of what planning seeks to achieve and the type of outcomes that can be achieved if it is practised successfully. It presents some of the global challenges that planners are having to respond to, such as those relating to climate change, urbanisation, environmental degradation, and deteriorating health and wellbeing. The chapter presents some of the goals and principles that are being advanced for planning today, and exposes some of the tensions that can arise when planning for the ‘public good’. The planning profession is also introduced, with the chapter providing some insight about the education and training of planners and the knowledge, skills and behaviours they are expected to have.

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Everything in life is inextricably interconnected. Yet, there is global dominance of neoliberalism, an ideology that is fundamentally based on disconnection. We are living a contradiction, treading a tightrope between cooperation and competition, trying to reform a worldview that is fundamentally at variance with the wellbeing of humanity and the planet. This is a remarkable moment in history: never before has a political system been this successfully destructive; but never before have the ideas, knowledge and skills to build a world of sustainability, peace and justice been at our fingertips.

Crisis is a chance for change

The choices we have made have consequences that have taken life on Earth into a multiplicity of crises, shunting humanity and the natural world of which it is part to the brink of extinction. Climate change, a coronavirus pandemic, species extinction, rising sea levels, environmental degradation … are not limited by national boundaries, but reminders of our planetary interdependence, our responsibility for the health of each other and the planet. At the same time, White supremacy is expressing itself in a resurgence of a Far-Right politics of disconnection, of individualism, greed, Brexit, the nationalistic building of walls, targeting all those other than the privileged. This intersectional, neoliberal project interweaves in a tapestry of structural discrimination its threads of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, disablism … and a strange hatred of our next generation, the hope for humanity’s future! We have, quite literally, been stitched up!

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The Map is not the Territory. (Bateson, 1972)

We see the world, not as it is but as we are – or as we are conditioned to see it. (Covey, 2004)

We have explored so far two elements of participatory practice that are key to transformative change and, in doing so, we have indicated that neither can achieve that potential without the third element: critical reflection. While we can start to open up the spaces for engagement with story and dialogue, to sow the seeds of individual and collective learning for change, reflection and reflexivity need to be interwoven into those elements to create the fabric of critical knowledge and thoughtful action. This cannot be an added extra but has to be integral to all we do. We can encourage people to tell their stories of lived experience and we can enter into dialogue together about what we hear, but this will remain a surface activity unless we add critical reflection for learning to happen. So, this chapter will explore what we mean by critical reflection and offer some conceptual ideas taken from critical and other theorists to help in the facilitation of critical reflection, particularly concerning power, both for ourselves and others.

At the core is the art of questioning the taken-for-granteds of everyday life and going ever deeper in that exploration through the continual cycling of reflection and action that underpins praxis and is the basis of transformation, encouraging us all to look below the surface and nurture the development of a sense of curiosity about why things are as they are.

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This second edition of our book was written slightly differently from the first. Both are the product of a shared journey, influenced by the experiences of two very different lives. In this, as in the first, edition we have approached the task in the spirit of the book itself, founding our approach on dialogue, on mutuality and respect for each other’s ideas, and on an openness to a dialectical challenge, locating dissent as central to knowledge creation within a frame of ‘connected knowing’ (Belenky et al, 1997). The original book was the product of an organic, transformative process for us, a process that continued afterwards. When we were approached by Policy Press to produce a second edition we were both in very different places, geographically and temporally. This, together with the pandemic during which we were writing, posed a challenge to our previous way of working. The result is a book that reflects our two voices and our experiences since the first edition.

In the book itself, we emphasise the use of story as a way of anchoring the process of change in lived experience. True to this approach, we share aspects of our own stories with you here. A participatory approach calls for us to acknowledge the ways in which our own life experiences have shaped the ideas that we share with you, and these vignettes give you insight into critical moments that have influenced our theory and practice over the years. We met in 1992 and became firm friends, who recognised our shared values long before we recognised shared academic interests.

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