For the past half-century, the planning system has operated on the basis of a growth-dependence paradigm. It has been based on market-led urban development and has sought to provide community benefits from a share of development profits. However, we do not live in a world where growth can be taken for granted and we are more aware than previously of the implications for well-being and sustainability. This timely book provides a fresh analysis of the limitations of the growth-dependence planning paradigm. It considers alternative urban development models, ways of protecting and enhancing existing low value land uses and means of managing community assets within the built environment. In each case it spells out the role that a reformed planning system could play in establishing a new agenda for planning. The book will be of relevance to planning students, planning professionals and planning academics, as well as urban policy specialists more generally.
The issue of housing land has always been central to town and country planning and since the introduction of comprehensive land-use planning, allocating land for residential development has been a major planning function for local authorities. Furthermore, this allocation process has frequently become the focus for overt political struggles between different groups at local fora, such as public local inquiries into planning applications and examinations in public of structure plans. Less well documented though are the political struggles at the national level over this planning issue.
Yet over the past few years central government policy on housing land allocation has taken an important new direction. With the election of a Conservative government in 1979, the planning system has come under renewed scrutiny. The result has been a series of Department of the Environment circulars, other policy statements and environmental planning initiatives. Associated with this has been an active political debate. The recent press coverage of the draft green belt circular (eg The Sunday Times 9th October 1983 and The Guardian 5th and 12th August 1983) is a more public example of the continuing stream of articles on this subject in trade, professional and other pressure group journals.
This chapter explores the dynamics by which a group of people come together to develop and implement a vision for their locality. It uses the concepts of networks and social capital to understand these dynamics more fully. It begins by building on the discussion of the previous chapter on the nature of communities. It then considers communities as networks and explores the concept of social capital. It looks at how to define the concept, the different ways in which social capital generates impacts (positive and negative) and, finally, the factors that can help shape social capital and those impacts.
The first chapter of the book sets out the overall argument – that planning needs to take account of the persistence of inequality and lack of economic growth as well as strive for leveraging growth into localities. These are not considered as alternatives. Rather, the argument is about the current imbalance in the planning system and over-reliance on market-led growth as a driver. The chapters will suggest some of the ways that this can be achieved and would then set out the structure of the book, indicating where these would be developed in more detail. The way that this book follows on from the argument in the last chapter of The Purpose of Planning would also be explained.
Chapter 2 argues that most planning policy and practice is dependent on the assumption of growth and is oriented towards leveraging development into a locality. Examples of this includes urban regeneration practice but also the widespread use of planning gain to deliver social and environmental benefits (through S 106 agreements, the New Homes Bonus, Community Infrastructure Levy). Gentrification through such growth-dependent planning is generally seen as an indicator of success. Once growth has been leveraged, some communities then seek to protect the local property market and associated amenities through conservation and anti-development policies. The background theory for this emphasises the dominant importance of economic drivers in delivering urban change. With current concerns over sustainable development, growth-dependent planning has been recast as green growth or ecological modernisation with the emphasis on how new urban development can deliver energy efficiencies and more sustainable places.
While growth-dependent planning is the current dominant mode, there are substantial criticisms to be made. This chapter reviews such criticisms focusing on three areas in particular: the implications for equity between social groups and the persistence of inequalities despite long term reliance on such planning, with some localities even experiencing growth in inequalities during periods of economic prosperity; the environmental justice implications with the distribution of environmental goods and bads arising from growth unequally impacting on different social groups; and the implications for sustainability in terms of resources use and management of external environmental impacts such as pollution (including carbon emissions). The chapter also points to the problem of the effectiveness of such leverage planning in times of economic downturn, whether short term (arising from economic cycles) or longer term (arising from global economic restructuring). Given the current economic circumstances and the emerging shifts in global economic power, these are important contextual considerations for the operation of planning.
Following on the argument of the previous chapter, this chapter makes the central case that the planning system should also focus on areas where lower levels of growth and income persist. This is planning that is pro-poor, protecting the position of the most deprived communities in the face of a planning system overwhelmingly oriented towards fostering economic growth and attracting private sector development. It develops a critique of the existing recommendations for orienting planning towards more vulnerable groups through more participatory planning, including the paradigm of collaborative planning. While recognising that participation is an important element in planning practice, it has significant limitations. Institutional reforms are required as explored in subsequent chapters.
Higher land and property values are seen as an indicator of success of leverage planning. However, they drive lower income households and businesses out of areas and result in a different range of services for local communities. This chapter explores how a planning system could protect lower value land uses through zoning and other means. It covers: affordable housing; secondary and tertiary retail outlets (a largely ignored issue); SME workplaces and start-up space and the use of empty properties, including the empty public estate.
While growth-dependent planning relies on the profitability of commercial development as a driver for change, this chapter considers how not-for-profit development can be fostered. It extends the discussion of affordable housing introduced in Chapter 5 by looking at the history of social housing and the role of direct public sector provision, the 5% Philanthropy movement and Garden Cities. It also considers innovations such as meanwhile uses and community-based development land trusts. Innovations in localism through the community right to build (Localism Act 2011) and equivalent overseas experiences are considered.
This chapter looks at the spaces, places and assets that are used in common by communities and need to be protected for the effective functioning of those communities. These include: public parks, public spaces in urban areas and community assets such as halls, pubs and post offices. Community based schemes to provide and maintain such assets are discussed as well as community management and planning of outside land and spaces. Links are made to the literature on local commons.