REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL SPATIAL PLANNING
Regional spatial planning in England is still in development and will probably not see its fullest expression until beyond 2012. It has been through a number of iterations and false starts, where spatial planning intentions have been diverted or subverted by other agendas. In this chapter, the approaches to regional spatial planning will be examined in their wider context as this provides a greater understanding of the processes at work in the development of regional spatial policy and its role in delivery. The regional scale has also been one of the areas of greater development in other parts of the UK. National plans that have been prepared in Scotland and Wales have a considerable bearing and influence on regional planning in England and in many ways begin to show the way things might develop in the coming years. In Northern Ireland, the RDS published in 2001 created much of the framework that is still being used today. For regional planning in England, there have been a variety of tensions, pressures and challenges which have served to divert spatial planning to represent different interests rather than creating a coordinated framework for spatial policy. One of the key concerns of regional activity within England is that it has no democratic accountability. The proposals for English regional governance were dropped following the failed referendum in 2004. If the experience and history of Scotland and Wales is to be taken into account, following the failed referenda on devolution in 1979, it took 20 years of developing distinctive Scottish and Welsh policies and governance structures before the referenda were held again. It could be that this will occur in England in the early 2020s. Meanwhile, the development of regionally distinct approaches with some decision making about priorities for expenditure could be supporting an underlying pathway to directly elected regional governance structures in due course. In the meantime, indirect regional governance structures are developing quickly and sub-regional governance may be emerging more rapidly as part of this constitutional agenda (HMG 2008; HM Treasury 2009c; CLG 2009d). Turok (2008a: 15) has also questioned how far the development of sub-regional, local and neighbourhood approaches that are emerging are substitutes for each other or are complementary.