chapter  1
32 Pages

Town planning, local planning and public policy

In reality, town planning is extremely complex, dealing with matters that are highly inter-related, surrounded by uncertainty and much affected by ideology. It is essentially' ... a ruthless bargaining process' (Buchanan, 1968, p. 52) concerned with conflicts of interest and the distribution of limited resources. In the last 10-15 years, town planning practice has begun to adapt to this reality, and under the pressures created by structural changes in the economy is being shaped into a system which is concerned with the management of change in the environment. Such an approach inevitably accentuates the inter-relationships between social, economic, physical and political issues. In addition to the traditional roles of plan production and the control of development, it is also concerned to manage the allocation of resources in a way which achieves, as far as possible, policy objectives set out in plans. Although there have been legislative changes which, it can be argued, reflect this reality, e.g. the introduction of enterprise zones and urban development corporations, the statutory basis of the town planning system is largely unchanged. Town planners are still seen solely as producers of land use plans and controllers of development carried out by other agencies. At the same time, the introduction of new legislation and new policies, which explicitly reflect the ideology of the current (1986) Conservative government, is undermining the limited position of the development plan provided by statute.