chapter  4
26 Pages

PLANNING AND URBAN POLICY

Urban policy under New Labour was a diffuse, complex and evolving affair. Any assessment will depend largely on what is taken to be the scope of the field. ‘Wide’ or permissive definitions rightly emphasise the diversity of urban policy and highlight the multiple initiatives and cross-cutting, issue-based and (sometimes) contradictory approaches (e.g. Johnstone and Whitehead, 2004). More discrete evaluations focus instead on particular dimensions of urban policy or neighbourhood renewal, such as Health Action Zones (e.g. Barnes et al., 2005). Others are case studies exploring the ‘joined-up’ policy approach of New Labour (e.g. Raco and Henderson, 2009) or focus upon the new vehicles such as Urban Development Corporations (e.g. Imrie and Thomas, 1999) or new strategies such as the Northern Way or Sustainable Communities Plan (e.g. Gonzalez, 2006). Yet others explore specific schemes, such as the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinders (e.g. Bramley et al., 2007), approaches to finance, including Business Improvement Districts (e.g. Peel et al., 2009), Tax Increment Financing, or attempts to link create multi-scalar coordination through Local Area and Multi-Area Agreements (e.g. Morphet, 2008). And then there are those who focus upon outcomes for specific groups such as the young (e.g. Brown and Lees, 2009) or the homeless. The scope of what falls within what we could broadly term urban policy is considerable, especially as the boundary between ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ issues has become increasingly blurred as attention has been drawn to common themes such as accessibility and climate change.