chapter  2
23 Pages

NEW LABOUR AND PLANNING

This book is about changes to planning during an era when there was an attempt to ‘modernise’ it. As I discussed in Chapter 1, this is not the first time that a government has sought to recast planning in order to achieve its objectives. Yet, analysis of such change is not a simple matter. It is tempting to harmonise approaches and periods, smoothing over complex and nuanced objectives, conflating intended and unintended change, confusing rhetoric with action, and falling into the trap of confirmation bias to support a particular view. Did New Labour succeed where the New Right failed in having coherent objectives for reform and successfully implementing its agenda for planning modernisation? According to the then planning minister, Lord Falconer, in a speech to the CBI on 26 November 2001, the battle to reform planning had been fought and won: ‘The time is long overdue for a wide ranging reform of the planning system . . . Planning is not serving business well – but neither is it serving the community.’ And Baroness Andrews, parliamentary under-secretary of state, in a speech to the Planning Inspectors Conference on 29 March 2006, said: ‘We have, together with other colleagues in other parts of the planning world, turned around a service that was seen as tired, out of date, and sclerotic.’