The role and content of other formal plans and programmes
Although these measures have few common characteristics apart from their formal nature, one trend which has emerged is the tendency to focus on a particular topic or policy issue in isolation, and/or to define geographical areas (often limited in extent) where the provision of the initiatives in question will apply. This' area' -based approach persists despite much criticism that such spatial boundaries are largely irrelevant, particularly where questions of social policy are concerned (Hatch and Sherrott, 1973; Townsend, 1976). Yet there may be sound administrative and political reasons underlying the use of priority area social policies (Donnison, 1974). In any case, the difficulties of dealing with urban deprivation through area policies do not necessarily mean that the area-based approach as a whole has nothing to offer. Hambleton (1977), for instance, suggests that area approaches have considerable potential, e.g. in promoting new approaches and learning about the efficacy of current policies, and in assisting in the renovation of management and political processes at the local level by relating policies to areas which are meaningful to local residents.