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  • Author or Editor: Olivier Sykes x
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The conclusion reviews the findings of the other chapters and returns to a question set up in the introduction, asking whether the issues in planning in England reflect: failings of the planning system, profession and ‘discipline’; failings of the state within which planning has to operate (which then uses planning as a scapegoat for its own failure to deliver); or a combination of both state and planning failure. The conclusion then identifies four cross-cutting themes that recur in the preceding chapters, those of rhetoric, rapidity (of reform), resourcing (or the lack of) and regressive outcomes. Across these four themes, the conclusion summarises how UK government (in)action has caused or exacerbated problems with the operation of the English planning system, and represents an unprecedented failure of that government to design and implement a functioning planning system.

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Launched with much fanfare as a new scale and alternative to the regional planning structures established in England under the New Labour governments of the 1990s and 2000s, localism’s most tangible effect on planning has been the rights conferred on local communities and businesses to prepare neighbourhood plans. With the current government agenda for planning veering away from localism and back towards centralism, the chapter reflects on the legacies and lessons of almost a decade of experience of neighbourhood planning and its future prospects. It concludes that poorer areas have been much less likely to produce neighbourhood plans, highlights the regressive consequences of that inequality and suggests that fundamental changes are needed to make it work effectively.

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Reforming Spatial Governance in England

This topical, edited collection analyses the state of the planning system in England and offers a robust, evidence-based review of over a decade of change since the Conservatives came into power. With a critique of ongoing planning reforms by the UK government, the book argues that the planning system is often blamed for a range of issues caused by ineffective policymaking by government.

Including chapters on housing, localism, design, zoning, and the consequences of Brexit for environmental planning, the contributors unpick a complicated set of recent reforms and counter the claims of the think-tank-led assault on democratic planning.

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This chapter introduces the book by first reviewing how a narrative of planning ‘failing to deliver’ has been constructed over recent decades on the island of Britain particularly in England. It reviews the manner in which planning has been critiqued and scapegoated since the 1970s by rightist and liberal critics, the ideas that ostensibly underpin their positions, and the resultant episodes of attempted deregulation of planning. The recrudescence of such critiques over the ‘long 2010s’, including surrounding the ‘radical’ reforms of planning proposed in 2020, is also explored. The discussion then moves to consider the book’s central question of whether many of the issues that the planning system and profession have had to contend with in fact reflect central state ‘failings’, such as endless and accelerating cycles of reform, policy churn, and tinkering by governments, which have rarely allowed one set of planning reforms to bed down before new policy reforms and initiatives have been launched. Finally, the contents and structure of the rest of the book are outlined.

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